Posted in day out, museum, Picks of the week

Horniman Museum & Gardens, Forest Hill

The Horniman has been open since the Victorian times when a Frederick John Horniman opened his house of weird and wonderful objects to visitors. The collection has since grown and now the Horniman has various collections, exhibitions, an animal walk, a butterfly house and its very own aquarium. Not to mention it’s extensive gardens, with a playground for children and an amazing view over the city.

We’ve been numerous times now and each time has been a huge hit with the tiny dictator so I wanted to outline the best bits for us in the hope it will help you when planning your trip. This breaks a little from our normal format of posts but hope it helps!

  • Aquarium (on the LG) floor is brilliant for kids and babies alike, it’s small but has plenty of amazing things for little eyes to feast on and they have little steps so that little people can stand on them and see all the activity. You have to pay separately for this if you are not a member but at £4.50 for an adult & £2.50 for kids aged 3-16 it’s worth it.
  • Butterfly Garden (located at the top of the gardens behind the animal walk) is definitely worth a visit and is yet again a feat for tiny eyes. Again you have to pay separately for this and remember to book in advance or as soon as you get to reception in the museum as there are timed entrances and it is popular. Also important to note that it has slightly different closing hours and during the winter closes at 3.30pm rather than 4.30pm. Adult entry £6 and child entry is £6.
  • Animal walk is at the top of the gardens so go past the museum itself and carry on up the pathway and you will see it diagonally to the right. This is free and a fun walk through enclosures including some gorgeous alpacas.
  • Café with highchairs and a great range of food, you can sit out or in.
  • Check in advance for what’s on on the day. We went on a Wednesday once and were immediately directed to a free storytelling session in the Hands on Base (a room where you can hold all the real objects). Wednesdays are Wonderful Wednesdays during the summer (still worth checking) and there are various free family activities on.
  • We have been to the Brick Wonders Exhibition. We loved it and visually the baby liked it, but he loved the play area more and I would say this is more for 2+ years, especially as it’s a paid for exhibition.
  • The free exhibitions are brilliant and have interactive elements so do make time for them. Don’t miss out on the infamous huge walrus taxidermy which even has its own Twitter account.
  • Horniman hold Busy Bee sessions for children under 5s which includes storytelling and singing. From 10 September that will be every Tuesday and costs £2.50. Definitely worth trying to coincide with this as much cheaper than any Hoop class we’ve found.

Hope that helps and please do tag us in any photos from your visit.

Cost ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Cost varies depending on what you want to visit. There’s plenty on to do for free (exhibitions, gardens, animal walk, free drop in activities) but we have put some costs in above and for both the butterfly house and aquarium maximum cost is £15 for an adult.

Accessibility ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Easy with pram or sling, and there is a buggy parking area on the LG floor of the museum.

Facilities ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
All the facilities you need are on the LG floor of the museum, there is baby changing in both male and female toilets (hurrah!) and a special designated feeding area (see below).

Feeding friendly ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Special designated feeding area if you want privacy on the LG floor but you can feed anywhere in the museum/gardens.

General vibes ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
As everyone told me, this is a South London gem. Brilliant fun for all the family and so family friendly.

Posted in Days out, museum

Food: Bigger than the plate, V&A Museum

Food. It’s everywhere at the moment; on my kitchen floor, on my kitchen ceiling, in every hard-to-clean crevice between my kitchen drawers. Hell, I even picked a blueberry skin off my nipple the other day. Yes, we’re three months in to weaning and I’m spending more time with the kitchen mop than I am with my husband. 

So, I was keen to see the V&A’s latest exhibition, Food: Bigger than the plate, which explores our relationship with food, the impact our consumption is having on the planet and whether we can achieve a more sustainable future – a hot topic in these uncertain times and one I’ve personally been thinking about a lot more as I attempt to shovel yet another broccoli floret down the wee man’s throat. 

Now, at £17 tickets aren’t cheap (though definitely worth it) but I got mine half price with my Art Fund pass (have I mentioned those before? Probably my top essential item for mat leave, if I’m honest). 

What was great about this particular exhibition (aside from how thought-provoking it is) was that it is such a sensory delight – replete with videos, colours and things to touch and feel – you can happily meander round with the feeling that both you and babe are getting something out of it. 

The exhibition opens with a eco-friendly toilet – what kid isn’t going to love that – before you go on to learn how waste can be recycled to create everything from glasses frames to wine bottles. In another, artists have created a fruit-filled wallpaper in honour of the fact that the V&A now stands where an orchard once grew. It’s like something out of Charlie and the Chocolate factory; so good, you can (almost) taste it. And, it being all about food, there are animals too. A particularly hard-hitting exhibit explores the life-cycle of a pig. True, I chose to focus on making “oink, oink” noises in the wee man’s ear rather than lingering too long on the significance of the piglet’s face on meat cans, but hopefully the wee man learnt what noise a pig makes and I left thinking twice about serving sausages for supper.

On a practical note, if you’re coming with a pram – don’t take the underground footpath from South Kensington Station. There is no ramp and my friend had to humph her wee chap up and down various staircases before we got to the exhibition which, we were told, could have been avoided if we came via the main entrance. 

The staff though were super helpful even offering my friend a private, more comfortable, room to feed her baby in when he got hungry half way through. Baby changing facilities were well sign-posted and on the same floor as the exhibition but with bath and bedtime beckoning we didn’t have time to stop in their cafe. We noted though that lots of families and their children were enjoying the gardens and paddling pool and I hope to take those in when I return for their Dior exhibition, also showing currently. 

Cost ⭐⭐
Expensive, unless you invest in an Art Pass – well worth it

Accessibility ⭐⭐
If bringing a pram, don’t take the subway footpath – ramps are at the main entrance only. 

Facilities ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Baby changing is well sign-posted and on the same level as the exhibition.

Feeding friendly ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Staff, very helpfully, offered the comfort of a private room for feeding. 

General vibes ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Got the old grey-matter thinking and a sensory delight for mum and baby – this is a brilliant exhibition that I’m still mulling over a week later.