Right now London is hot, so hot actually that the tube has become a place where it would be illegal to transport livestock! The holidays have also just started for school age children and now is a good time to think about what to do with them. I am not the kind of parent who whines about the long days to be filled during the summer break, not that I don’t long for time on my own from time to time, but I try to see these six weeks as an opportunity to slow down and to enjoy places we do not go to as often as I would ideally like.
One of these places is the Geffrye museum, and it can be reached by overground, which you will be glad to read is air conditioned. Whether you have a toddler or an older child matters very little because the place has wonderful things for everyone!
Active children will love running in the front gardens, little artists will love the amazing (and free) activities lined up this summer, and parents will no doubt enjoy the peaceful herb garden and period gardens at the back of the main building. The museum itself is all about the home and you can take a peek through a typical living room throughout time which is a very interesting experience. For those interested in a taster or if you want to prolong your visit, the kid’s zone online gives you plenty of options, from designing a Victorian room to colouring a beautiful oil lamp.
In short, if you’re too hot to face the tube or too broke to go to the cinema, then hop on the overground to Hoxton and enjoy this great place!
Last Sunday we decided to explore Bloomsbury, a neighborhood in central London well known for its literary figures including Virginia Woolf. Our destination was the foundling museum which is just next to the lovely playground and animal farm in Coram Fields.
We learnt tons of interesting facts and, coming to think of it, it’s a bit sad that this place seems overshadowed by other local attractions. Believe me, it really is a hidden gem! Did you know, for instance, that the foundling hospital was the first home for abandoned children as well as London’s first public art gallery? That right now you can enjoy Grayson Perry’s The Vanity of Small Differences? And that it has a great cafe too? Now what are you waiting to go?!
My eight year old daughter wanted to go because she had read about this place in Hetty Feather, one of Jacqueline Wilson’s novels. Hetty Feather is an endearing and strong-minded character and the fact that the story takes place in Victorian England was part of the original appeal for her. Now of course, this got her started on a long series of other reads including Sapphire Battersea, Emerald Star and Diamond. Like many other young readers, she has become a bit of a Wilson fan, although one with an acute sense of which are her real favorites.
As for our visit, I can truly say that it was a hit with the four of us but interestingly for different reasons. My (almost) four year old son was fascinated by the details of Perry’s tapestries and bombarded me with endless quasi-metaphysical questions. My daughter really enjoyed the details about life in the orphanage and she also had a ball making magic wands with her brother downstairs as part of one of the museum’s family activities. As a historian, my husband liked the way the curating team had used the archives, even if he had to spend quite a bit of time trying to prevent our son from gate-crashing Jacqueline Wilson’s talk (which was sold out of course). As for me, I found the recorded testimonies and some of the recent art projects made by Davina Drummond and children at the Great Ormond Street Hospital particularly moving.
In short, if you are stuck for ideas for this coming summer, then go and visit this place! It is worth your time and with a national art pass you have no excuse since it is free!