I always used to love going to the Natural History Museum with my parents and my brother. Obviously, the dinosaurs were our favourites. And my brother and I would always end up leaving with a new realistic, scientific-type dinosaur model each. Once I even got an ultra-realistic-looking gorilla – no angry red eyes or scary, fanged faces. So I thought it would make a fun daddy daycare day out for me and Z.
Naturally, I assumed the place would be pretty empty on a random Thursday morning. I could not have been more wrong. I mean, last time I went on the weekend, with my wife, the queues were so long we just turned around and left. So it wasn’t that bad by comparison. But it was pretty busy; mostly large groups of school kids in high-vis vests and a healthy smattering of tourists thrown in for good measure.
We queue up outside for a while, listening to some am-dram announcer give his spiel about the museum guidebooks you can buy. Finally, we’re in. Our backpack gets checked and we head left to the dinosaur section. It’s pretty busy but we can still flow relatively easily through the aisles. The first thing that really stands out, of course, is the animatronic Tyrannosaurus Rex.
“Where’s the goat?
I worry that Z might be scared of the moving, growling dinosaur, but instead she’s captivated by it. Leaning right out of the sling and craning her neck to get a better look at the intimidating, ominously lit tyrant lizard.
The one that does seem to scare her, though, is the moving Deinonychus, or “Terrible Claw,” models around the corner. To be fair, they do look pretty nasty. Like Velociraptors with feathers, and evil faces straight out of a low-budget ’80s sci-fi horror flick.
I spot two old paleontologists reliving the glory days
We breeze through the mammal section. Quite sad, really. But still quite interesting to take in. A young girl in a Natural History Museum t-shirt holds an animal skull and opens and closes it for intrigued – and terrified – looking kids. My favourite new fact I learn is that orangutan means “man of the woods,” in Malay.
The highlight of the trip, though, is lunch; We head to the cafeteria. I grab a fancy ham hock and Emmental sandwich on wholemeal bread, a flat white and a high chair. Z loves getting out of the sling and sitting at the cafeteria table with me. I give her a rice cake and some banana and devour my sandwich. The flat white is surprisingly good as well.
The Darwin Centre
We take a quick look around before leaving. And I notice “an early neanderthal status symbol” in the Cadogan Gallery’s Treasures exhibition. Ah, neanderthals and their status symbols…
The Over Thinker…