On one of the first sunny weekends in early April, the Babes took a trip** to Horniman Museum in south east London. I’d been meaning to visit this family friendly museum for ages, and it recently topped Buzzfeed’s list of 18 Incredible Places You Won’t Believe are in London.
It’s really straightforward for us to get to via overground from Highbury & Islington to Forest Hill and a quick 10 minute walk from the station. We’d planned a full daycation, including packing a frisbee to play with in the Horniman’s 16-acres of gardens.
The Horniman makes an impressive sight on arrival, with its majestic clock tower and a stunning Grade II listed Victorian conservatory.
First, we headed down to the Horniman Aquarium which is great, especially for little eyes, hands and legs, as it’s much more compact than the London Aquarium but there’s still lots to see.
We loved getting nose to glass with sea horses, jellyfish and coral reef, and Ezra was especially tickled by some tiny frogs leaping about.
Next we checked out the Plantation exhibition for kids, showcasing the life of plants through mixed media, digital quizzes and interactive installations.
It’s all very bright and colourful, however it was a bit childish for the Babe Papa who drifted off with a newspaper while I roamed with Ezra and Jed. They’d have happily stayed here for longer, but we were keen to discover more of the museum.
We entered the Natural History Gallery and spent ages gawping at the stuffed animals — everything from great apes to the famous centrepiece, a giant Walrus, to a beautiful display of tiny hummingbirds. Even a dodo!
The babes were both fascinated and somewhat creeped out by some of the exhibits. But it was amazing to see such a variety of wild specimens up close and to learn more about the natural world.
Have you ever heard of brain coral?
Or seen how a chicken grows before it hatches?
Lots of food for thought.
We also checked out the Africa gallery that featured sculptures and an exhibition tracing the roots of African spirituality through South America and the Caribbean.
I love the quote that introduces African Worlds.
After a quick sandwich in the cafe, we went out to see fantastic views across London and we said hello to sheep and goats in the Animal Walk.
We also wandered through the medicinal and dye gardens before getting the frisbee out to play on the lawns. There’s really so much to do at the Horniman that it would be impossible to cram everything into one day and we’re planning a repeat visit soon.
Our afternoon rounded off watching footie at a local pub and then heading a bit further up the high street for a gastropub lunch at The Dartmouth Arms. Pork belly anyone?
By the time we got back to Highbury & Islington, it was already dark and the sandals I’d worn out weren’t feeling quite so clever. But we still had warm thoughts of Forest Hill. Thanks for having us, Horniman Museum.
Horniman Museum is at 100 London Road, Forest Hill, SE23 3PQ
(Forest Hill overground). The museum is open daily 10.30am to 5.30pm (closed Dec 24-26). Admission to the museum and gardens is FREE. A small charge is made for the Aquarium and some temporary exhibitions.