A little trip down memory lane for me is always a jaunt around South Ken to see the museums. I love them dearly, and when we were kids, we went there all the time. My favourite was always the Natural History Museum.
The Victorian architecture is, even now, quite scary but there are so many places to explore and investigate inside this great building, it’s hard not to resist it’s pull. The creatures recorded within and on display still give me the shivers now – how could they have ever existed? Gigantic, prehistoric, weird and many of them now long extinct, it pushes the boundaries of imagination for us little city folk to imagine how things once were. This is really where the wild things are.
I must have been about eight years old when walking beneath such a great colossus crystallised in my mind and became the great memory that it is. Today, it maybe a little less magnificent, even dusty on the top, but this gargantuan structure still inspires me with awe. It’s the Blue Whale.
In my mind, I remember walking underneath it in a great big hall and wondering at it’s sheer size and might. It’s since been sidelined to a lesser space, but it’s still very enchanting.
And of course, generation after generation, we always wish to inspire our own offspring and let them experience the same things we did.
They never really do see it the way we did, but it’s a great thing to share all the same. This is London at it’s best.
This weekend’s trip, and it definitely wasn’t our first one, was a voyage of discovery for Miniminx. While we went to experience the Butterfly Jungle, it was she who was the real butterfly of the day. She fluttered and skipped around and had a great adventure in the jungle of centuries past.
We walked (she skipped) around and tried our best to believe that many of these things were once real. Woolly Mammoths in London? Wolves that returned to the sea and became whales? Soft shelled tortoises? It was pretty cool and very outlandish, but that’s nature for you, even if it is behind glass.
Check the Panda…complete with bouffant bikini line…(my observation not Miniminx’s I might add)
Oh, and this hybrid cross-continental tiger…how majestic and yes, how stuffed, but we learned something!
The Butterfly Jungle was actually quite a challenge. When we walked in, we were immediately faced with glass tanks full of snakes and cockroaches and strange looking jungle life. Not quite the pretty Sunday afternoon spectacle we were anticipating. Then Miniminx was freaked out when she turned round to see a man with a butterfly languishing on his nose. I’d been looking forward to this little adventure, but she was feeling quite skittish, so I guided her towards the pretty things to get her on an even keel.
‘Ooh Mummy look at those!’
Ahem. How do you explain this little butterfly dance?
But how can you not fall in love with this cheeky creature? Check his legs-akimbo-stance. Like a character from a fairy tale isn’t he?
And these lovely geckos – Miniminx took this one – she has a great sense of drama in composition – it’s like geckos do Prison Break.
And I don’t know why, but these look like some kind of insect-world restaurant in China Town – you know the ones where they have the glazed duck hanging in the window – do you see what I mean?
And of course, we couldn’t leave without a drama. I spotted a butterfly languishing on the back of Miniminx’s skirt just before we left. I should have kept my mouth shut and not excitedly said;
‘Look, there’s one on your bum!!!!!!!!!!!!’
Before you could say Cabbage White, she was off and running like a bat out of hell through the dividing doors and into the exhibition shop flapping as if she had bats in her hair. She managed to export the butterfly with her which meant I had to very carefully guide the poor thing through two lots of clear plastic dividers.
Needless to say, I smiled graciously at the shop assistants and shepherded Miniminx into the Great Hall.
She spotted this fish and was momentarily entranced.
Was it the gothic setting?
The overwhelming sense of the Victorian age?
The cold, the glass, the stillness of it?
‘Yes, what is it?’
‘Yes – a fish?’
‘It’s a what darling?’
‘Mmm, I suppose it is.’
‘Mummy! It’s staring! At me!’
To be honest, I found it hard to disagree, museums can be a bit gothic and creepy. It was time to get back to the real world. And of course, with Knightsbridge on the doorstep, we had a spot of lunch, a nice little wander up the road, and yes, the great Museum of Shopping to explore…a perfect Sunday.