We love exploring London. Our city is vibrant and varied and its still the best city I've ever been to in terms of catering for small children (apart from the serious lack of lifts in some stations... grrr) I've not been anywhere else (and though I haven't travelled the world, I've been to a fair few major European and American cities) where the museums are, without exception, so child friendly... and free!
So yesterday we donned our wellies and our waterproofs and headed for the Museum of London Docklands.
The Museum of London Docklands is one of the lesser known London Museums, and we discovered its sister Museum, the Museum of London, two summers ago. It has since become my favourite London Museum - so interactive, child-friendly and just plain old interesting - and so we were excited to discover what the Museum of London Docklands had to offer.
We were not disappointed.
We arrived and were welcomed by a very friendly gentleman at the desk who gave Ava an "Explorer Bag" - a small rucksack full of little water related activities perfectly suited for the under 5s: a boat puzzle, some things to look out for around the museum, a pair of binoculars and other little activities. We had to lay down a £5 deposit at the start to borrow the bag, which we then received back on our return. We were so impressed right at the outset, though I will be honest and say she didn't even open her bag; she was too busy exploring the museum!
First stop was Mudlarks. We were there early, and so it seemed sensible to enter the Museum's Sensory Play area before the crowds arrived. The girls were in their element - water play, soft play, sights, sounds and smells. The London Docklands came to life in a very tactile way...
Water play - always a hit with toddlers!
Stocking the ship with goods and supplies! Tea, Water and Silk!
Taking in the sights, sounds and smells of life on the docks!
We left Mudlarks and headed into the main Museum. The girls loved pottering about, looking at all the displays and getting their hands on all the artefacts. There was plenty to do for them, and lots of things for them to climb into. With the exception of Mudlarks, it wasn't as interactive throughout as its sister Museum (The Museum of London is a hidden gem) but there was no shortage of things for them to do or look at and these two girlies thoroughly enjoyed themselves!
A dance and a sing-song in the tavern in Sailortown
Lots of things to touch and smell... the Warehouse to the World exhibit gave the children the chance to explore the smells of the different cargo - tea, coffee, vanilla, spices, sugar, herbs and more...
We got to see what life was like on the docks during the Blitz for the locals...
... and also the workers who weren't allowed to leave their posts...
Lots of the stories were very moving... the museum traced the history of piracy, slavery and the awful living conditions of those who worked on the docks. Of course, I was not able to take in as much as I could have without the children, but they were occupied enough with their own explorations to enable me to be able to appreciate the immense history behind our river. I left feeling grateful for all I have...
Guard-spotting at Buckingham Palace!
... sometimes I just don't ask!
One Sleeping Beauty who was desperate to see the Queen's Palace and missed the whole thing because she was fast asleep and refused to be woken - even for a mounted soldier!
You can find out more about the Museum of London Docklands here