Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Vicarious Tourism: The Look Out

Today, I thought it would be a good day to properly start getting out of the house. I'd originally had all sorts of grand plans involving a car drive across the M25...those got scuppered in the end.

In the end, after an impromptu Pro/Con list (i.e. sitting in bed counting on my fingers at 11:30 last night), I decided that in the contest of the Science Museum versus The Look Out, that the latter came out the winner. Don't get me wrong, I love an excuse opportunity to go to London, but this was closer, cost just as much as the day's parking, and would give us more time in the venue of choice as we wouldn't have such a long drive. When you're taking an afternoon trip after a Skype date with your husband, you have to factor in these sorts of things.

Mama & E in the mini market. #IDidThisAsAKidToo

So, we hopped in the car and skipped over to Bracknell to check The Look, out. To be honest, I'm really glad we went: the whole thing was brilliant.

What's a DIY job without a bit of demolition?
The 'build a house' play area that they have is fantastic. The 'house' is just big enough for little kids to climb in, and they can go up to the first floor and work on putting plastic shingles on a section of the roof. E liked it more, though, when he was taking all of the carefully placed shingles off and sending them back down the shute to the box below. To be fair, he worked out really quickly which slot was for the conveyor belt that brought shingles up and which one was for sending them back down again. We also had fun building walls with the giant Lego-style blocks and letting him ride around on the push-pedal diggers.

After climbing back out of the Lego bins, a proud boy
stands with his wall.
After that, it was off to the Hands-On Science exhibits. E's first love here may have been the ping pong balls in a funnel. Sort of like the old coin races you could find at the mall...but with ping pong balls. Oh, and jazzed up so as to be labeled a black hole simulator. I may or may not have made several Neil deGrasse Tyson references while he played with that for 20 minutes...

As you can see, we also had a moment trying to reenact that scene from Big where Tom Hanks and Robert Loggia play the big keyboard in F.A.O Schwarz. ...Okay, so maybe that was just me trying to reenact that scene, but I defy any child of the '80s not to think of that movie as soon as they see a giant floor keyboard. #babiesofthe80s

Then, we moved on to the Bernoulli blower, which E loved. He thought it was the best thing that the ball would 'fly' all on its own in the wind. We spent a lot of time chasing it down when he'd yank it from the air. Of course, by the end of playing with it, he mastered the art of getting the inflatable globe back into the air stream so that it could float patiently waiting for the next kid to come and fiddle with it.

Another nostalgia moment for me? In the toddlers' section, they had a mini market. I have vague memories and good pictures of me - at the same age - playing in something similar in the town where my sister was born in Virginia. So, of course, I had to entice E over to have a look and play. Whereas I was always more interested in the toy fruit and veg, E's love was the till with its fake money. It took some convincing to make him put it back.
Vicariously reliving my childhood. Isn't that what kids are for?
We ended the trip with another round in the build-a-house play station and then popped into the gift shop to let him choose a toy. With a little money from his great-grandparents (his grandmother's mum & dad), we searched the shop and let him pick out a wind-up toy dump truck to bring home. He's already decided that it's got Bob the Builder sitting in the front.

So that was a fantastic day out for us. I'm sure we could have stayed for ages longer had we gotten there earlier, but E was fairly satisfied with the 2 hours we spent in the end. Besides, now I know it's worth coming back with multiple rugrats in tow in the future. 2 years seems to be just the right age to really enjoy enough of this place to make the trip worth your while. It's hard for me to gauge how a younger kid would fare...I'm starting to forget just what sort of attention span E used to have before now.

So, The Look Out. Good fun close by and for the equivalent of a day's parking in London. When you're not up for the drive into the city, you can't say fairer than that.


  1. That place seems like some of the hands-on kid museums around here - my boys (and *) loved those when they were littler - hours of fun!!! Glad you kept busy for 1 day of the week so far - you are that much closer to the end of the week!!!

  2. Kim, it reminded me of a smaller version of a place called Port Discovery that we grew up with in Baltimore. It's great to have hands-on museums like that!