Wednesday, 30 October 2013

ReadItDaddy has an absolute Dahl-ing day out at the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre, Great Missenden, Bucks

Through these purple gates magic happens!
With Charlotte's school embarking on a "Roald Dahl Day" for their upcoming Book Week, we thought we'd better do some research - and what better place to have a whizzpoppingly great time than the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre at Great Missenden, Bucks.

We had wanted to go for ages, but were a bit concerned that Charlotte might be a bit young for it. Nevertheless we packed into the Storymobile and headed bucks-ward.

Great Missenden is one of those magical towns that seems to have stood still in time.

The wonderful "Red Pump Garage" which inspired "Danny: The Champion of the World" (note on the door says "Out of Fuel since 8 gallons cost more than £1)

It has a fantastic library (which Matilda would've loved to have visited) but we were determined to get to the museum before the dark rainclouds descended on us. We just about made it by the skin of our teeth.

Friendly staff greeted us and went through the various activities that were on during the day, and gave us a "Spooky Ghost Hunt" quiz sheet to complete as we made our way around the centre.

The first thing we saw was a very welcome sight indeed. Wouldn't you love doors like these?

Yummy! Broke my teeth on this trying to gnaw a corner off!
Charlotte also got very excited at the prospect of sitting on a croco-bench.

I think you're OK if you sit on this, unless you have feathers. 
The museum is mostly a mix of the story of Roald Dahl's fascinating life, and of course a great deal of subject matter drawn from his wonderful books for children AND grown ups. So the first gallery was full of family photos, and a bit about Roald Dahl's early life in Landaff, Wales - and at boarding school where he was a bit of a tearaway.

Some fascinating letters home to his mum gave hints and clues on where Dahl drew so many points of inspiration from for his books (particularly Miss Trunchbull in "Matilda" !)

Fancy a quick flight in a mock-up of Dahl's Hurricane?
As Dahl got older, and as war commenced, he became a pilot and served with the RAF overseas.

Charlotte was as tall as an Oompa Loompa!
Before and after the war, Dahl also worked for the Shell Oil company. There are lots of items of interest showing what a gung-ho adventurer he was as a young man.

Here's Charlotte seeing what she'd look like as one of "The Twits". 
The layout of the museum is brilliant, there really is a huge amount to look at in each of the areas. Though we were predominantly there for all the children's story stuff, we really found the displays based around Dahl's family life really fascinating (reminds me - I really need to re-read "Boy" at some point!)

Willy Wonka's fabulous jacket and cane from "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" (with ghostly chum!)
The second gallery had more of a story focus, and also an awesome mock-up of Dahl's infamous "Writing shed" which looked very comfortable (perhaps this is the reason I don't get much writing done at home, I need a shed!!)

The great man's chair (with snooker-table-baize lap board). Fabulous stories came from such humble surroundings!
I loved that he had a touch for the macabre. One of his hip joints sat proudly on the table along with other trinkets like a ball of silver paper tightly packed together, made of all the silver wrappers from chocolate he consumed when working for Shell, and a model Hurricane from WW II.

Charlotte's "Story Ideas" book. Think this one's about a princess who is also a monster, and only likes eating jelly!
Young children are very well catered for - they are given fascinating things to do, including working on their own story ideas as they walk around the galleries - or even whispering to the Minpins with some of the interactive displays.

Our favourite area was right at the end of the museum complex, a vast interactive area full of amazing activities and wonderful items to gaze at. We got stuck into making our own stop-motion movie like "Fantastic Mr Fox".

I say, be a dear and fetch me a whole roast chicken. I'm feeling a little peckish. 
Models from the movie adaptation were on display (and they're SO cute!) Wonder if anyone noticed that Mr Fox's chair looks eerily similar to Dahl's favourite writing chair?

Space-going Grandpa Joe, Charlie and Willy Wonka - oh and astronaut-y Oompa Loompas!
All too soon it was time to leave this magical and wonderful place - but not before visiting Cafe Twit where a certain delicacy was very much in demand...particularly by my lovely other half and my chocolate-loving little girl...

Bogtrotter's Cake from Cafe Twit. Too yummy!
There's also a very well stocked shop full of Dahl goodies, brilliant children's books (spotted the latest Rebecca Patterson "Bella" book there and I STILL didn't buy it, DOH!).

ReadItDaddy and Charlotte getting creative in George's Marvellous Making Room!
An utterly fantastic and magical day out, and we've vowed to return next time they're doing some storytelling or activity events. Well worth visiting!

Time to make a stop-motion movie, Charlotte style!

The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre Website

Cafe Twit's amazing and scrum-diddly-umptious menu!