For a start the Buckinghamshire countryside is simply stunning – beautiful views, hilly at times – it is just calling out to be explored on foot or by bikes! We wanted to go for a countryside walk but there simply was not enough time to do it all!
I read the reviews beforehand and they mostly said a couple of hours would suffice but as we went on a BH weekend there were lots of extra activities organised (Twits and Tricks Day – fabulous!) so in addition to visiting the museum we ended up listening to the person reading out Roald Dahl story, listening to another talking about Roald Dahl and his passion for writing (some 25 min talk) and attending the Twits, Tricks and Circus skills one-hour workshop.
The Centre itself is not very big but it is entirely down to you how much you want to get out of it. Our attitude was that once we were there we may as well make the most out of it so we were slowly moving between the different displays. The children got totally emerged in all the things which were on display although both myself and my husband were very much involved in keeping their attention up.
In the Boy gallery we were looking at Roald’ Dahl’s school days so I read them all the letters he has written to his ‘mama’ while away at the boarding school. The boys were enthrilled with Roald’s childhood photographs on display. It was interesting to learn that both his parents were Norwegians (‘does it mean he could speak Norwegian?’ asked Giselle.. we ‘googled’ the answer when we got home ;-)).
Then the Solo gallery houses Dahl’s original Writing Hut and explores in detail the characters from many of his books. I think the children have found this gallery particularly interesting – they were able to discover what changes has Dahl made to his books/ characters and where was he getting his inspiration for writing from.
We then moved to the Story Centre which again I found highly inspiring – lots of hands-on activities to try i.e. Ideas table, Automatic Grammatizator (where Giselle and Conrad put some really funny sentences together – see photo) and the craft section where Arthur was busy crafting Mr Willy Wonka.
All three really enjoyed the Centre and it felt like by the end of the day you were inspired to… be a writer! 🙂 Conrad said that he would like to be a writer while Giselle said that she has two ideas for her book and doesn’t know which one to choose ;-). Even our 5-year old got a lot out of it – he now knows who Roald Dahl is, knows some of his characters and was trying hard to copy some sentences from one of the letters (he has just learnt to write ;-)) so what’s more to ask!
It was great to introduce them to the ‘more human’ side of Roald Dahl and the whole concept of writing and illustrating the books became more tangible to them. They could see the real person not just the ‘hero’ figure and all the stages and struggles he had to overcome in order to get to the point in life he was. And I hope they realise that one does not simply becomes who he is by coincidence but one goes through many life experiences and (ideally) does some travelling and all this shapes his character and makes him more rounded and hence ready to write ;-).
We will be going back but next time I try to get there early perhaps 10am and leave a couple of hours in the afternoon for the countryside walk (you can pick up a map with the countryside trial inside the museum). We also haven’t got to Roald Dahl’s grave, which is some 10 minutes walk’ as the children got distracted by the local Fair (read: top it all up with two rides each on the bumper cars – loved their smiles! ;-)). Never mind – some good excuses to get back! 😉