School holiday again this week so arranged to meet up with a friend for a day out. As you may have read somewhere on here before I am not a big fan of driving for lots of reasons. Small children in the backs of cars scare me when I am in the driving seat, especially on motorways, and then of course there's the green factor. So we set off to Manchester, aiming for the Museum of Science and Industry, with a bus and two trains ahead of us.
It has been a while since we've done a day out of this nature, so the girls were excited at the prospect of buses and trains and of seeing my friend at the other end of the journey. First bus went well, first train was a bit hairy as I had forgotten how busy that service can be, and we ended up sitting on the floor by the doors for the first half of the journey. Eventually we found seats, with me perched between the two of them trying not to 'bother' the man next to us who was trying to work on his laptop. The girls were great though and oblivious to the potential discomfort due to the lack of seats and space.
Then there was the fact that I had chosen to meet in a city that has more than one station and crossed communication with my friend meant that we were headed for different stations... oops, my fault entirely. We met up in time for the second train across town though, to Deansgate and a short walk from the museum. Well, it would have been a short walk if we had been able to read the tiny sign perched on the opposite side of the road from the station instead of setting off in the opposite direction. Being unopposed to asking for directions we soon got back on the right track and raced each other back to the museum.
Arriving, younger child was already past feeding time and so we headed straight for the museum eatery. I was not expecting much as my experience of museum cafes told me not to. However I had decided before setting off that I would for once spend money rather than taking extra time to organise a picnic and then have to cart it around all day, so we stopped off at the second floor for sandwiches and food-related stroppiness. In between mouthfuls the girls spotted a little steam train taking people for rides outside and - amazingly given that we had already been on two trains that day - they got quite excited about the prospect of going for a ride.
Once tummies had been filled we went into the experiment gallery at MOSI. This is packed full of things to touch, smell, feel and twiddle. I think my five year old could have spent most of the day in there, there is so much to do and see just in that small section of the museum, but obviously three year old was by this point fixated on the 'little blue train' so our time was limited to the limits of patience of a three year old. Favourite for five year old was turning a steering wheel to operate a pulley which pulled a real Mini (car!) up and down a vertical board. "Mummy I moved the car!" and three year old loved the giant bubble blower. Personally, I loved the large black inverted globe which cast a 3D reflection - so you could put one hand into the globe and see an image of you shaking your own hand, surreal.
Obviously the next thing to do was find our way to the 'little blue train' as requested. It is amazing the fascination children of all ages have for steam trains (as proven by the number of grown men working as 'volunteers' on this particular service). Whilst waiting the girls were getting a little giddy and three year old ran into the little fence in her excitement. She ran back down to me crying: "Oh, where did you hurt yourself honey?", I asked, which prompted her, not, as I had expected, to show me the bit of her head that hurt, but to run back up and point to the exact spot of the fence that was responsible. Trying not to laugh now: "No, where on your head honey?" Ah poor thing, she wasn't badly hurt let me reassure you! The ride was fun as expected but unfortunately we had already run out of time for further exploration.
We headed back through the textile gallery and talked about coming back again sometime to meet up as we had only seen a small portion of the museum and it had been a fun experience.
The journey home was another two trains and a bus, this time with seats all the way. We waved goodbye to my friend at Deansgate from the opposite platform. Highlight of the journey home has to be the moment when five year old stepped onto the travelator (moving platform) that was going in the opposite direction to the one that me and three year old were standing on. She began by walking very fast with an expression on her face that conveyed complete confusion. She just looked as though she really couldn't understand why she was having to walk really fast while we were standing still. Perhaps you had to be there but it was very funny.
Arriving home I felt such a surge of pride for my girls. Apart from a few little blips they had been so good on the journeys and throughout the trip, it had been lovely to see my friend and spend a really fun day with my two lovely daughters. I spent a fortune but the memories of days like that one are priceless.