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Hampton Court Palace with kids

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We took a trip out to Hampton Court Palace while we were staying in London this half term. Luckily for us the English schools were still hard at work so other than some school visits, the palace was very quiet. We were most interested in seeing the Tudor part of the castle, so after speaking to a lady at the information desk, we set off on two guided tours for kids – one of King Henry’s palace and one of the kitchens. We were given some Tudor gowns to wear but the boys quickly decided these were not cool!

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There were also various events on during the day involving actors and plenty of audience participation. We saw one where Queen Elizabeth I was deciding the fate of Sir Walter Raleigh. The kids were far too intimidated by her to say anything. We then saw the old Tudor banqueting hall, chapel and the private pew of King Henry VIII. The corridor leading to it is said to be haunted by Katherine Howard who was dragged down the corridor to be taken to the Tower of London before having her head chopped off.

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The gardens were great for a run around and let off a bit of steam and Britain’s oldest maze was a big hit although declared generic cytotec 200 mcg ‘too easy’. We had lunch at the Tiltyard Cafe. The food made us kind of wish we had been organised enough to bring a packed lunch, but the Hungry Caterpillars Den was a big hit. Yes, so even the boys who were too cool to wear the Tudor gown spent an hour playing with the wooden play kitchen, and we got to enjoy a cup of coffee in peace.

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So my top tips would be – get some of the children’s guide booklets, get involved with the events and chat to the actors and staff who were so friendly and loved telling the kids tales about ghosts and goings on in the palace. Bring a packed lunch if the weather is nice and enjoy the beautiful gardens (and save some bread to feed the swans on the river on the way back to the station). The children’s audio guides might also be worth checking out.

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This website has some great Tudor activities for kids which are great to have  a look at before or after a visit. They include some Henry VIII colouring pages, and our personal favourite, a game where you can challenge him to a fight!

Or try this brilliant game and quiz about the life of Henry VIII set in Hampton Court!

 

British Museum with kids

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We have just got back from our half term break in London where we had a busy whirl of sight seeing, visiting family, and a long awaited (by the kids anyway) trip to Legoland. One of the things I had been wanting to do for years though, was to visit the British Museum. I had been once before in my twenties before the kids came along, but since then even the journey down to London with three children has been to put me off going back. Now I wanted the kids to see some of the amazing exhibits, as well as having another look myself.

The challenge was to make it interesting for the kids–after all one statue can look very much like another after a while, and they have had more than enough of mum ranting on about Romans and Egyptians. Thankfully the British Museum had a solution–a digital audio guide for children. They each got a console with a pen to touch the screen with–an instant hit with all of them. It led them though a choice of seven buy cytotec pills online tours; we did the ancient Greek and Egyptian ones, which took maybe an hour or so.

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The directions were good and led the kids from one exhibit to another with funny sketches, jokes and weird characters. There was also a few interactive quizzes which they loved.

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This was ‘the  lady with the bare bottom’ which was a landmark on the Greek tour!

I could have stayed  a bit longer but they were tired so we stopped for a snack in the amazing Great Court and called it a day, hopefully leaving with good memories and wanting to see more another day.

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The only thing I wish I had done differently would have been to turn up a bit earlier. You would have thought I would have  done this having written this post, but somehow it just slipped my mind. There was a lot of people about and we had to queue to see some of the most famous exhibits like the Rosetta Stone, but the biggest queues were for the ladies toilets!

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Do you have any tips for getting kids to love museums?

A day trip to the palaeolithic

This summer we were in the South of Spain for our holiday and one afternoon, when we had had enough lounging about we took a trip to a place nearby that had been recommended several times in the visitor book at our campsite. It was called the Cueva de la Pileta and we supposed it was a big cave system. This sounded like a interesting thing to see so we made our way there and found ourselves climbing up a hill and hanging around for a while waiting for enough people to turn up for the guide to take us in.

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Once we were let into the dark cool chamber the guide explained that we were going to see, not just a big cave system, but one that had been inhabited more than 30,000 years ago. Artefacts and evidence of fire had been found in the outer caves, but more than that, deep in the cave they had found cave paintings.

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We followed the guide into the cave, down slippy passageways, in the pitch dark with a few of our party carrying small lanterns. The moving lights cast shadows on the walls as we passed huge chambers, clear pools and sparkling white stalactites and stalagmites. We had been walking slowly for a good twenty minutes before we got to the furthest point, after cytotec online pharmacy which the floor was too unstable to walk on. And there, when the guide held his torch up in the huge chamber we could make out hundreds of paintings on the walls, done back at the time of the last ice age.

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Palaeolithic paintings from the Cave of Altamira in Spain

 

It was an amazing experience, and it really made us think about life way back in the Palaeolithic. Before seeing this cave I had thought that cave paintings were just paintings of animals and hunting scenes. But now it is more mysterious to me than ever. What on earth was this all about? It must have been frightening walking deep down into these slippy, cold, narrow passageways lit by nothing but some flickering torches. Certainly my daughter was claustrophobic and wanted to get out! The sparkling caverns must have seemed magical. Why did they choose to make paintings so deep in the caves where no-one ever lived? What did the paintings mean?

So we left the cave with many more questions than we went in with, and a need to find out more about the people who lived there. Not bad for an afternoons trip!

If you ever find yourself with an afternoon to spare in the Ronda region of Spain make sure you give these caves a visit.

 

Stirling Castle – medieval life in 4D

Stirling castle life in 4D

We visited Stirling Castle this morning. We often meet my mum and dad there as it is half way between us and a good place to catch up and spend a few hours. The kids love exploring the ‘dungeon’ (which is not actually a dungeon at all, but some dark creepy rooms down steep steps) and running round the battlements.

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Last time we were there we discovered a whole new area in the palace vaults designed for kids, so we went back there today to have a better look. There was plenty to do – not just reading and quizzes, but also things to touch, feel, cytotec 200mg smell and hear.

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After listening to a TED talk this week about how the use of all your senses can improve the quality of an experience (this was not a talk for children I would warn you!) it really made me appreciate how good these displays were. It made me think much more about how life must have been like back then – how it must have sounded and smelt, and how impressive all the colours and rich fabrics must have been to mere commoners like myself. The only things missing was something to eat! Plenty of inspiration there for some Medieval/Tudor projects I think…