It's been a while since I've blogged about a Nice Day Out, but I've been continuing to squeeze them into my schedule whenever I can. I've totally abandoned my original plan of having a fixed day off each week and am instead taking them in little flurries in the quiet weeks between deadlines. This is working pretty well - especially as the days out feel like well-deserved post-deadline treats.
Here are a few of the things I've been up to so far this summer...
... having tea with a tiger at the Jewish Museum:
The current exhibition at the Jewish Museum is Tiger, Mog and Pink Rabbit - a retrospective of author/illustrator Judith Kerr's life and work. I adored the Mog books and The Tiger Who Came to Tea when I was little, and really enjoyed this BBC documentary about Judith's career and her family's escape from the Nazis... so I was really looking forward to this exhibition. It didn't disappoint!
It manages to be moving, inspiring, informative and very fun with lots of interactive elements for kids (and nostalgic grown-ups!) - including having tea with the famous Tiger :)
There's also a daily storytelling session and free craft events and the museum are screening the BBC documentary at weekends (see here for more info). The rest of the museum is also well worth a look. I visited last year and enjoyed it hugely, though - be warned - you may need tissues when visiting the very moving Holocaust gallery.
... exploring tiny worlds at the Museum of Childhood:
The V&A's Museum of Childhood is a wonderful free museum filled with toys and other childhood artifacts from the 1600s to the present day. It's a total nostalgia fest, as you'll recognise lots of things from when you were a kid! They have a great collection of dollshouses, and they're showcasing twelve of them in their current (free) exhibition: Small Stories (with 20 more on display elsewhere in the museum).
The dollshouses in the exhibition are utterly charming, and are accompanied by special audio recordings where the inhabitants of the houses tell you their stories. The houses are arranged in chronological order, so the exhibition also doubles as an introduction to developments in architecture and home design over the centuries. A couple of the rooms have been reproduced at child size so your kids can play in them (so cute) and there's also a fun art installation of 20 miniature dream rooms created by artists. My favourite? Home Is Bear The Heart Is.
... going behind the scenes at the Bank of England:
I visited the Bank of England Museum earlier this year and loved it. Who knew money could be so interesting? As part of the City of London Festival, the Bank held a couple of open days this month with free guided tours of parts of the building that are usually closed to the public - including the famous committee room where the Monetary Policy Committee meets each month to set the interest rate.
As you might expect of a free tour of a famous building that's usually closed to the public, the queue for this was rather long! It was almost a two hour wait for a half hour tour but totally worth it, and the time passed quite quickly thanks to the friendly ladies I chatted with as we waited. After the tour, I looked round the museum's current exhibition then enjoyed a special talk about the history (and future) of English banknotes.
If you'd like to visit the Bank of England, there will be more free tours of the Bank running during Open House London this autumn, or you can take a virtual tour here. The museum is open on weekdays and is free to visit (no queuing required).
... being inspired by plasterwork and poetry at the Foundling Museum:
The Foundling Museum is a wonderful little museum, telling the story of the Foundling Hospital: a home for abandoned children which opened in the 1700s. I've visited it a couple of times before, but read about the current exhibition, Lines of Beauty, and decided to make a return visit to check it out. Inspired by the fabulous plasterwork ceiling in the Hospital's Court Room, this was an exhibition all about decorative plasterwork - with sketches and models from the creative process and lots of examples of finished pieces. This was gorgeous and quite fascinating and I know I'll never look at a fancy ceiling the same way again.
Also on at the Foundling Museum at the moment is an exhibition of 26 poems, each written by a different poet and inspired by a different object in the museum. The poems are dotted around the building, next to the objects they were inspired by and you can also read them online here. I found this poem by Andrew Motion to be especially moving.
... discovering centuries of history at the Tower of London:
I'd been meaning to visit the Tower of London for aaaaaages (I've been in the moat but that doesn't count!) so I was thrilled to see that it's free to visit with an Art Pass this summer (thanks to the Tower being one of the finalists for the Art Fund's Museum of the Year prize). If you've been thinking about getting an Art Pass now would be a great time to buy one, as the Tower of London is usually not cheap to visit! (You can also get free entry to the Jewish Museum and the Foundling Museum to see the exhibitions mentioned in this post, hurrah!).
I went with my mum and we had a fabulous day, admiring the magnificent Crown Jewels (SO SHINY), going on a guided tour led by one of the Yeoman Warders, walking the Tower's walls, and watching the ceremonial collection of the Word (the daily changing password for entry to the Tower after hours).
.... bonding with my dad over lots of awesome art and science:
Another Art Pass special offer was free entry to the Olympia International Art & Antiques Fair (did I mention that I love my Art Pass? I really love my Art Pass). I applied for my ticket and was delighted to discover it was actually a pair of tickets, so I took my dad for a Father's Day trip of coffee and cake and oohing over fancy art and antiques.
After looking round all the stalls at the fair (and doing lots of fantasy shopping, deciding which expensive things we would buy if money were no object) we headed to the nearby Science Museum for lunch and some happy hours of looking at exhibits while saying "OH MY GOD SCIENCE IS SO AMAZING".
When I'm in South Kensington I usually end up visiting the V&A or the Natural History Museum instead of the Science Museum, but I need to remember how much awesomeness is in the Science Museum and visit it more often!
... and enjoying the sunshine in Kensington's parks:
Last but by no means least, I spent a lovely day wandering round London with Carina - chatting about life and our crafty businesses and enjoying the glorious summer sunshine.
We visited some galleries, chilled out in Holland Park's gorgeous Kyoto Garden with the resident peacocks, checked out the Serpentine's 2015 pavillion (very colourful but also uncomfortably warm on a hot day as it's basically a great big plastic tent!), and had an icecream (me) and a vegan cupcake (Carina) at one of my very favourite spots: the garden at Kensington Palace.
P.S. Check out the video Carina took of the waterfall in the Kyoto Garden! Such a peaceful place to visit.