Friday, 30 March 2012

Sleep Somewhere Extraordinary (21/1000)

(#999 in the book)

So the book mentions about sleeping at either the British Museum, the Science Museum or the Golden Hinde. But if you're going to sleep in a museum, there really is only one option...

... the Natural History Museum of course!

This was one thing in my book that I wanted to do very much and didn't think that I'd get the chance to. Mainly as there is one stipulation to this - you have to have a minimum group of five 8-11 year olds. But luckily for me I have a niece who's just turned 9 and she happens to have 4 friends. Awesome. A fantastic birthday sleepover! Dino Snores here we come!

So on 23rd March 2012, we arrived at the museum at just before 7pm, and as we were only a small group and one of the earliest groups, we got an excellent place to sleep - an alcove just off of the main hall and looking right at Dippy the Dino in the middle.

Once we set up "camp" for the night, we all went to a welcome briefing outlining the do's and don'ts for night, they also went through the activities we would be doing. We all go broken up into different groups, and we were in the Red T-Rex group.  

Our first activity was a presentation about the deep sea. They had a zoologist talking all about the weird and wonderful creatures found there. He had photos, specimens to show us, and also items to hold.

Some really ugly things there. Blurgh.

After a little snack break, we went to our next activity - a torch trail within the dinosaurs exhibition. In the dark, we had a to find 6 yellow stands which had blocks we had to stencil onto a piece of paper which when we put them all together, they would make a dinosaur. 

It was pretty cool running about in the dark full of Dinosaur replicas. Especially the T-Rex section above. Quite scary in the dark with all the noises!

Ok, so as I mentioned above, the point of this was to stencil a dinosaur. Our stencil looked like this...

...and it should have looked like this...

Ah. Not quite the same! Oh Well.

Once we'd had a little talk about the dinosaur above, a "baryonyx", we then went onto the last activity. That was "master plaster caster" - my favourite activity of the night - fossil making!

We went into a room with a giant squid and this box of goodies.

We had a mat for each girl, rolling pins, some fossils, plasticine and the ingredients to make plaster of Paris.

The plasticine was made into a bowl to press the fossils into. Like below...

As I was the responsible adult - erm, can you all stop laughing now? - it was down to me to mix the plaster of Paris to fill the bowls up. I did a pretty good job too!

Once they were filled, we boxed them and they got taken away to dry and we would collect them in the morning.

By this time it was 11.15pm, and we were all ready for bed. So off to the main hall we went to meet all the rest of the parties and go to bed.

This was the bit I was really waiting for, sleeping by the dinosaurs. As I said above, we were in a little alcove opposite Dippy the Dino and in our little space a South American Giant Sloth skeleton. Cool.

So the girls were very tired just before bedtime, and as you can probably guess, as soon it got to snuggling down in our sleeping bags, they suddenly all woke up and all they wanted to do was to tell scary stories. And just as they got ready, at just after midnight the lights all went out! It's pretty eery too I tell you. Cool too. But eery. And dark. And eery.

So this was midnight... and everyone was excited. Well when I say everyone, I mean all the kids. They wispered. And coughed. And laughed. Then some silence. Aaah. Then someone would cough. And that continued with more coughing. And wispering. And laughing. Then I had a few times of saying "get off my sleeping bag and get back to bed" where the girls were sneaking to see if any adults were about and awake. We were. The last time I remember looking at the time it was almost 3am and I'd not had a second of sleep. Then at last there was silence... I got snuggled and comfy in my bag and then fell asleep. Phew.

Then I woke up to beautiful daylight coming through the roof of the museum.

A lovely sight. Then I looked at the time. 5.30am. And I'd been awake for a good 15-20mins. So 3 hours sleep. A whole 3 hours. Yawn. But it was ok, because we didn't have to get up until 7am. So that allowed me to lie and relax in my cosy sleeping back for another hour and half. Oh wait... the kids. They were all starting to wake up. So the whispering started. And the giggling. No relaxing here then.

So here we all are, wide awake. Guess we'd better start to clear up. Breakfast was at 7.30am, so we had to have the hall tidied up, mats back and bags put into a holding area until we were ready to leave.

Breakfast was quite basic, but full of yummy things that I like;

Cakes basically. Yum.

At 8am, we had our last activity and one as a whole group. A absolutely fantastic live animal show by @NickSpellman's amazingly brilliant Animal Man Ltd company. All the kids sat down in the main hall in front of the big staircase and at the bottom of the stairs they did the show.

I'm very glad to say that this was an interactive show. Not for the adults sadly. Although saying that, one lady got to touch one of the animals and much rather her than me! I'll let you guess which animal that way. Blurgh. As there were many groups of children, Nick did his best to bring up all the birthday kids and then any of the larger groups that weren't there for a birthday celebration.

So the animals, there were so really cute ones. So cute. And then some rotters. Yik. There was - a millipede, a tarantula (EEK!!!!), a giant snail (which my niece had the pleasure of touching), a bearded dragon, a snake, 2 different owls, a hedgehog, a shrew, a MEERKAT (Awwwwww), a chinchilla, an armadillo and lastly a skunk (which Kiera's friend Rachel got to touch as it was her birthday that day). Think that was it... And yes, I took pictures. There here... look!

Sorry about the Meerkat pic. My favourite animal, and although I took loads of pics, he wouldn't keep still so they were all blurred. Apart from that one photo with someone's head in it. Typical.

The show went on for almost an hour and a half, and then it was time to go home. Was a little sad, but by eck I was more than ready! We went to get our bags, and pick up the fossils that we'd made the night before and had dried. Also in the bag was a certificate for all the girls - congratulating them on surviving the night. 

Not gonna lie, little bit jealous as I wanted one too. So unfair being an adult sometimes. Huff.

So after a look around the shop and a quick group pic of us taking in front of dippy, the museum was open to the public and it was time to go home. 

What an amazing night and one I am so so glad I got to do. I really didn't think I would ever get an opportunity to do something like this. That night was by far the coolist thing I have done from the book. And I highly doubt it will get beaten.

So thank you Natural History Museum. Thank you!

Ok. So you wanna do this? I mean who wouldn't?!? As I said at the beginning of my blog, you need to have a minimum of 5 kids, and they have to be between 8-11 years old. It is also £47 per person (regardless of age), which isn't cheap when there are at least 6 of you. But holy crap it is so worth it. And it does include all the activities and breakfast.

Here are all the details for this entry. The official name for the evening is Dino Snores and you can find all the information on the Natural History Museum's website here. The Natural History Museum is also on Twitter @NHM_London and you can like them on Facebook. The Natural History Museum is a 5 min walk from South Kensington Underground Station. You can find the website for Animal Man Ltd here, they do school visits etc... so recommend them to your kids schools if you have any! Nick is also on Twitter @NickSpellman and Facebook too.

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