Friday, 5 April 2013

visiting the National Museum of Rural Life

Please note that this post isn't sponsored, but if you'd like me to come and review something, I am open to sponsorship.  :-)

Yesterday we went to visit the National Museum of Rural Life, we being myself, three children (aged 2, 5, and 7), and two grandparents.  We had not been before, but it was a good visit.

Even though it's a museum, you have to pay to get in, although we managed to get in free thanks to National Trust Membership.  You can also get in with membership of National Museums Scotland.  I thought that Museums were free nowadays, does anyone know why you have to pay?

Anyway, the museum consists of a (rather dull) museumy bit, with stuff sat out to look at.  A proper farm which has been preserved in almost genuine 1950s style, a small play park, a tractor ride, and a cafe and shop. 

We arrived at lunch time, and everyone was hungry, so we went straight to the cafe.  It being a school holiday they were busy, and they weren't coping well.  We queued for ages, then ordered soups and sandwiches.  We were given the soups and then told that the sandwiches would take about 20 minutes, so we cancelled them.  There was no way we could keep the kids occupied for another 20 minutes with no food, and luckily we had a bag of emergency snacks in the car, so we took the soup, drinks, and some cakes, and fled to the seats saved for us by Grandbob.  It would have been helpful if they'd put a sign up at the entrance to the cafe about the long wait for sandwiches, but there you go.  The soups I'm told were nice, but not very warm.  Hmm.  I'd recommend a picnic (although I don't know if there is anywhere covered to eat it).

The boy completing a puzzle in the kids
room in the museum.
After 'lunch' we looked at the stuff in the museumy bit, but it wasn't very interesting, and the children were bored silly.  There was one room with stuff for kids to do, which was alright, but it would have been good to have things to do spread out all over the place.  There were also lots of signs, telling you about displays, and farm machinery.  The signs were beautifully done, but also easy to carry around, and my two year old spent most of her time being told to put them back.  

We went to get the tractor ride up to the farm, only to discover the tractor had broken down... I think this was just bad luck, and it wasn't far, along a fairly decent path, to the farm, but it is a real farm, and a real path across fields, so do please take your wellies.  

The farm itself had a lovely layout and a lovely atmosphere.  We met staff who were knowledgeable, and who approached us to help us make the most of our visit, without coming across at all Disney (if you know what I mean).  We saw chickens (the little girl LOVES chickens), a brand new lamb (first one this year), some very big horses, a very patient cat, some prize cows getting milked by Maggie the Stockman (who went on a bit too long to hold the kids interest, but would be really interesting if I were there without them), and the cutest piglets you ever did see.

There wasn't the range of stuff to see or do that you'd get on a farm park, but it did feel genuinely 1950s, and the staff were great.

The old farm house was nice, but a little dull for the kids.  There were some jigsaw puzzles laid out in a room, but it felt a bit of an afterthought, and didn't connect with the rest of the farmhouse.  The best bit was the kitchen where a member of staff was on hand to show us the kitchen paraphernalia of the time.  The kids were allowed to touch things, and so we had fun talking about what we remembered of the things they found.  Funnily enough I remembered more than the grandparents.  Grandbob had never come across a rag rug before, but I could tell the kids how to make them!

After the farm we made our way back to the museum, next to which is a play park.  More drinks and snacks and the little girl played on everything, but the rest of us were tired out!  So, after buying some tat (in the shop, which also sold lots of nice things for gifts and the like) we soon made our way back home.  

It was a really good visit, but the museum bit was rather dull for kids, and it was too expensive if you didn't have membership of something.  I would go back, with a picnic (although I'd go to the cafe for coffee and cakes, they were yummy), because the farm was fabulous - mainly because of the enthusiastic staff.  I really liked the shop too, and the cafe would be nice on a less busy day.

Have you been?  Did you enjoy it? Where else would you recommend as a good Spring visit?