One: Have you heard of the Story Museum in Oxford? We discovered t when we were in Oxford for the Instameet, a recommendation from the staff at my old college when we were wondering what to do next. It’s tucked away down a side street from St Aldates, if you know Oxford it’s on the little road as if you were walking from St Aldates to St Ebbes, and at the moment it’s a bit hidden away by road works, but it’s so worth hunting out. Even the outside, where low windows in the wall let you peek into scenes from your favourite children’s stories, or the old red phone box outside that has been turned into a Nonsense box and is currently filled with Alice in Wonderland. I’m told that last December that’s where Father Christmas hung his red suit for dry cleaning, and on Christmas Eve it disappeared!
It cost £17 for our visit, £7 for me, £5 for each of my ‘under 16’ girls and Pip was free and it’s an amazingly creative place. We all loved spotting the artwork from some of our favourite stories, chatting to the illustrators in the illustrator zoo, and making our own fuzzy felt picture in the make it yourself room (which also had everything you could want to draw to your heart’s content) but it was when we got to the more interactive section that it got really fun. In the throne room you take your board, slot in an adjective and a couple of nouns, dress up to match and then hold the board up so the throne can see it, and then when you sit down the throne announces you:
“The Happy Fairy of the Universe!”
Kitty liked being from the Universe, mainly I suspect because it sounded exactly how Jeremy Clarkson would say it.
And then upstairs to bed, and hands down our favourite section. Imagine a corridor hung with dressing gowns from tiny to big tall grown up, and then a room softly lit and draped in a canopy of pretty fabrics. A little room on the side to choose your story and matching teddy, a toddler bed to tuck teddy into and the biggest most completely enormous bed you’ve ever seen to curl up on the pillow bean bags and have a read. If that wasn’t enough, one side room had old fashioned telephones that told you nursery rhymes and another was decorated like a cloud and played lullabies while a mirror ball gently danced lights around the walls. We were incredibly lucky to have it all to ourselves and the only reason we left was closing time. I quite genuinely would move in if it were an option.
On 1 November they’re opening their Narnia section, apparently you enter it through a wardrobe and it snows. We will be going.
Two: Pip has had another growth spurt (what’s new) which meant time to look for some new trousers again. I’ve been a huge fan of leggings for the girls, they just seem so comfy and so very practical for letting them move freely, especially when they’re in that learning to stand and walk phase, and while the beloved Maxomorra cloud leggings first worn by Kitty are now fitting Pip (and holding up very well for being third hand), the other leggings in his size were a bit too girly even for me (and I put Pip in pink bunny vests). But thanks to the wonders of Etsy, I’ve discovered Lottie and Lysh (made in Cornwall – woohoo!) and this gorgeous little gull pair, and Maebelle & Bo whose awesome array of fabric choices made it very hard to narrow it down to Monkeys and Diggers.
Three: The ‘On Being’ podcast was recommended to me this week by Laura, especially the interview with Ellen Langer, and I’m passing the recommendation on because it is absolutely awesome and I want to go back and listen to it over and over again and take notes. Her research into the impact that our mind has on our physical bodies is extraordinary, and in an interview that covers all sort of wonderful topics she addresses something that I’ve wondered about for years, why is the placebo effect seen as such a bad thing? If a placebo works, is much cheaper than drugs and isn’t introducing anything that could have side effects, why don’t we harness it?
Four: Now that Bake Off has finished (and I caught up just in time to watch the final quasi-live, and avoided all social media for the entire of the evening so it truly was a surprise) it must be time for The Apprentice. I have a sort of love-hate relationship with it, I usually can’t bear to watch the first few episodes because everyone is just so ridiculously over the top Big Brother style and I have this horrible feeling that every squabble from the girls’ team sets women in business back ten years, but I’m usually sucked in half way through. I thought this article from the Guardian about what we should have the Apprentice candidates doing was really interesting; I’m not sure it was always right and a lot of the suggestions are impractical (like teaching them code) but I think the genus of the idea is sound; flogging fish fingers is assessing skills that are outdated, the truly new big idea is a solution to a problem we haven’t even noticed we have yet. Sadly I suspect that while creative thinking and hard core maths makes excellent business plans it might be lousy telly, so fish fingers it is – what do you think?
Five: And last but by now means least, it’s Blogcamp London on Thursday! I’ve got the day off work, H at home with the little ones and a train ticket booked. It sounds like it’s going to be a really interesting day and I’m looking forward to spending a whole day indulging myself and talking blogging. So if you’re going, come and say hi, I’m very tall so I promise you’ll be able to spot me!