I love the Horniman museum in south London. It’s such a randomly brilliant and unexpected place. It opened in 1901 when Fredrick John Horniman threw open his collections and his home to the public. With our newly acquired membership card burning a hole in our wallets and a free Saturday we piled into Bernice and off we went.
Parking is easy on the street at the back of the museum and always gives us a chance to admire and speculate on the shiny silver tin top Bongo just outside the back entrance.
After a splendid and excessively large picnic in the grounds Scott and SC headed off to the farm animals (including the biggest bunny you’ve ever seen…) while I waddled back to Bernice to ditch the rug and the (minimal) left overs. I was delighted to see the owner of the Bongo sweeping his front drive and headed over for some Bongo chat.
Peter made me feel like a compete Bongo novice having spent five solid months traveling with his wife in their unconverted X reg driving as far as Iceland, Bosnia and Portugal. We discussed the usual petrol /diesel MPG issues, height restrictions and general Bongo brilliance as your main and only car. I sensed a small amount of dislike for the pop top option but each to their Bongo own….
As well as the animals in the amazing 16 acres of grounds there’s a kitchen garden, sound garden, bandstand, farmers market on a Sat, nature trail, fabulous plants and SCs favourite botanical display of large round cactuses (mainly because she likes to be simultaneously delighted and horrified at the thought of sitting on them with no trousers on…strange child). In the grounds is also the memorial tree for my dear friend Mike who died in December 2014 from motor neurone disease.
The aquarium in the Horniman is small but exotic, just right for small children. There’s sea horses, a tank of luminescent jelly fish, a fabulous tropical coral reef and brilliantly coloured poison dart frogs. If it wasn’t for all the pesky other visitors to the museum I reckon I could install myself quite happily with a flask of tea on the bench in front of the massive tropical tank for the best part of the day. Sooooo calming….
As a trumpet and flugelhorn player my favourite part of the museum is their amazing collection of instruments, around 8000 I believe. The brass section is totally strange and wonderful, an alto orpheon has made it onto my Christmas list more than once (you’ll just have to visit….or Google). Naturally SC’s favourite bit is the adjoining room where you can make a lot of noise trying out different instruments.
There’s tonnes more to see and I could rave about it all. We popped into the dinosaurs exhibition which is diverting and only open until the end of the month, there’s photography, natural history and a shop which is good for unusual presents. There is a cafe but in our experience its always packed and the service is a bit slow. It’s nicer to bring a picnic and enjoy the grounds.
Never mind the Natural History Museum which is always packed and too big to get round in one day, step off the beaten track and head to the perfectly proportioned Horniman, you won’t regret it.
Not long now until my next Bernice trip…it’s a girls weekend away further exploring the #spacamping concept……can’t wait!