Summer Funtime at the River & Rowing Museum

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Ah, doesn’t it look peaceful?

This was the lovely neat, quiet room in Henley’s River & Rowing Museum before any children got into it. Let me say straight away that this Summer Funtime with Mr Toad exhibition is not quiet. Car horns beep, there’s a musical station to the front of the picture above with tambourine, triangle and a whole load of other percussion instruments that I don’t know the name to. Connect Four makes an almighty crash. Willow rings hit the picture of Ratty and friends as they try to connect with the hooks. The room is reverberates with the sound of children.

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But it is just So. Much. Fun. I came in with my 5 & 7 year old a few weeks ago and couldn’t shift them for about an hour. It’s pitched  just right, because it’s endearing for adults too. I am grotesquely competitive at Connect 4 – thus playing for 10 minutes without a break and whipping my 5 year old’s sorry butt (oh, not appropriate?). I was indulgent enough to watch my daughter with pride while she made up an intensely slowwwwwww puppet show with the characters from Wind in the Willows, reminding me that I really must help her with her dramatic flow and story arcing. (Truly, this is a JOKE!!!)

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There are lovely touches like the dressing up wall, which has various animals including owl – yes, tis me in my feathery finery below – next to 1948 Olympic Rower’s costume.

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So there’s much to recommend it. It’s small, doable, easy and utterly charming, and I think at a push even my 11 year old would enjoy it for half an hour or so, before heading upstairs to the more permanent exhibition space.

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If you are yet to visit the River & Rowing Museum, it’s beautifully situated on the river in Henley, so you’re also right next door to a lovely park with two play areas, one woodland-ish and a bit older, and a younger, squidgy one that only re-opened two weeks back. Two minutes further down the river and you’re at the boathire place Hobbs of Henley, so you can take out a boat if you fancy (see my post for more). And another five minutes on and you’re in the centre of Henley and the shops. So you can really make a day of it.

Dare you to dress up in the Toad costume if you go. Send me a picture. Seriously!

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