If you follow me on instagram/facebook/twitter you may have seen a few weeks ago, we got to experience something wonderful. We got the chance to have a sleepover at Dorset County Museum in Dorchester with Dippy the Dinosaur, YES, you read that right, THE DIPPY from the National History Museum. He is currently on tour and his first stop is in Dorchester. I have wanted to write about our experience since we very first got in but I wanted to take my time so it wasn’t just excited drivel.
I don’t believe I have ever done anything quite like this, but I do hope to experience some wonderful things with my children in the future, this was our first stop on our quest for a fun filled and happy life. Dippy has been at the museum since February and as my son is a huge, huge fan of dinosaurs, and as a family we are all pretty dino crazy, we got tickets to go see Dippy. Firstly, we went with some family friends, and the children loved it! So much so, they wanted to do it again, so we booked more tickets to go see him in May with my mum (Mamma) and Mr BC’s dad (Grandad). However, before we reached that second date, I got an email with the exciting news that as the first two sleepovers were so successful, and had sold out so quick, they had added an extra date, and as I subscribe to the mailing list, I was given advance warning. I spoke to Mr BC as quick as I could and without much thought we booked tickets. This was almost a once in a lifetime experience, we could not pass it up.
We told the kids, who were obviously excited and it wasn’t far in the future, so we had no moans or waiting which if you’re a parent you will appreciate is a amazing.
I took a few photos on the night but mostly I did live videos to my facebook feed, which was very cool as we got to share our experience with family and friends as it was happening. The whole experience was really well planned and was just amazing. My initial thoughts were that it may be quite scary staying in a museum and I thought it would be quite strict in what you could do and when. But the staff were amazing and we got to wander round the museum, spend some time with Dippy, and they had organised games and activities. We had hot chocolate before bed and they had organised two films to watch (Dinosaur related obviously), and it was not scary at all. In fact, it was incredibly exciting.
Even before we got in they had some entertainment for us as we queued, this lady was amazing. She had a dino disco set which played lots of music from T-Rex to Everybody walk the Dinosaur, accompanied by her son she was very entertaining and we saw some more interesting things from her later too.
She was just as excited about dinosaurs/fossils and the chance to sleep over as us, she was also really insightful and just fun to be around.
When we made it into the museum, the biggest decision came, did we pick somewhere quiet to put our sleeping bags to try to get some sleep or did we sleep under the towering skeleton of Dippy…..
Obviously the children picked Dippy, which we knew would be terribly exciting but also full of lots of other excitable children and lots of accompanying adults (with snoring/talking/laughing) but we may never get to do this again, so we went for it. One night of restless sleep would be worth it. So we made our way into the great hall and picked a spot to camp out. The kids had made a friend in the queue so obviously they wanted to be near her. So we set up out gear and waited to find out what exciting activities awaited us.
We all had handy printed itineraries to follow and before the event we had all been spilt into teams and had been asked to wear a colour to define our group, and we could do fancy dress if we wanted to try to win a prize. As we didn’t book until last minute our dress wasn’t amazing, but we all had matching blue hoodies, as we were on the Jurassic Tropical Seas team with the Pliosaur as our prehistoric creature.
The activities ranged from a Pliosaur versus Megalosaurus Quiz to Parachute Games. I really can’t praise the whole evening enough, who would have thought a museum would let children run around playing a game of dinosaur tag or playing exciting parachute games within one of its collection halls. It was an amazing experience, that I do not think I will ever stop talking about. The children loved every single moment, even though the recommended age was 7, and Poppet is only 5, she still got to join in and experience everything.
During the Pliosaur/Megalosaurus quiz, the children had to answer questions by finding the answer in the room. My two worked beautifully together which doesn’t happen often, and they managed to find all the answers, and poppet did some beautiful handwriting. So educational as well as fun, so a thumbs up from mummy!
After this, we went through and some wonderfully, exhilarating fun playing dino themed parachute games. For me the idea of children running and playing within a museum panicked me slightly, what if things got broke. But the children were really well behaved and the staff again were incredible. I even got to join in with a game of dino tag, we had a slight incident, as poppet got a little crushed by some the bigger children and I was on the other side of the room so didn’t see it, but she was rescued and got to stay with the museum lady for a bit, so she was happy enough.
We then went into the main Dippy hall where we got to see the lovely Dinosaur Disco lady again and her son. She talked to us about how she was a huge fan of the jurassic coast and she had a special skirt made of sedimentary layers, and she sang us some Jurassic themed songs with her ukulele and son accompanying her. It was amazing! She sang about sedimentary layers, fossil formulations and about Mary Anning (famous for all the fossil hunting she did and so much more, look her up and if you want more exciting and interesting information have a look on the Jurassic Coast website); which if you are a big dino fan, or live around the Jurassic coast or are interested in fossils; will know she is a big deal and this lady was a huge fan. I think after this evening, I was also a big fan and my appreciation for dinosaurs, fossils and history of where we live, increased tenfold.
We got to walk around Dippy again and get our selfies if we wanted one! It was amazing seeing him from up high, as you can imagine we would be as high as tree level, which is where Dippy would have been eating from and until you see how big he is, you cannot truly appreciate what it must have been like when dinosaurs roamed the earth. The video below is a link to my facebook, as I don’t have a downloaded version of it. Please let me know if you have any issues with the link.
As the night wore on, we were invited for a hot chocolate and to get our pyjamas on. Whilst we waited for the films to be prepared, we were allowed to have a wander around Dippy and into some of the other rooms, and we did a raffle and the fancy dress competition. Whilst Mr BC took the kids to the raffle I spent a few minute with Dippy all on my own. It was quiet and peaceful not eerie as I thought it might be. It was an incredible moment, that I won’t ever forget.
This is me all alone with Dippy!
The choice of films was Jurassic World or Dino time for the little ones. Monkey wanted to go watch Jurassic world so we all went through to watch it. I had brought some snacks and we all had blankets which we snuggled under. I could tell, Poppet was not going to make it to the end. She was yawning away and had asked if she could do some colouring. We had already seen this movie, so I could understand her getting bored. So Mr BC stayed with Monkey, and Poppet and I went back to our camping area under Dippy.
Monkey enjoyed the film and returned a couple of hours later and was asleep by 11:05pm, 5 minutes after lights out. Poppet and I had been doing some colouring and telling dinosaur and princess stories, and we had settled down but waited for the boys before also drifting off to sleep.
Everyone (nearly everyone) slept soundly, there was a few snorers and a creaky door somewhere, but mainly it was peaceful. However, at just after midnight Poppet developed a funny doggy sounding barking cough, and it kept waking her as she also developed a wheeze. We had been locked in the museum so I couldn’t go anywhere, and it was only a bit of a cold but unfortunately it meant I spent most of the night holding her up slightly so she didn’t have to lie flat. Whilst I was sitting awake cradling Poppet so she wouldn’t lie flat, the museum was generally quiet, I could however, hear some kind of exhibit in the background, still talking to itself, and for one moment I had the silliest thought that maybe things did come awake as we sleep, like in the movies, and it added to the excitement of the night. So even though, Poppet was a bit unwell and I didn’t get much sleep, me and Dippy really enjoyed each others company as everyone else slept on. I think it must have been from sleeping so low to the floor, and she suffered with croup as a baby. It didn’t dampen the experience though as we all had a great time and we were sad to go. Poppet especially got sad as she didn’t want Dippy to leave but we reminded her we had one last visit to do, although sadly as you will know from my previous posts, Grandad didn’t make it with us to visit Dippy but we did still go in his memory and Monkey and Poppet hoped his spirit was with us to see us enjoying our final visit to Dippy on his tour.
The morning after, we all were given cereal or croissants for breakfast which was yummy, but we rushed through it as I wanted to get Poppet home to get some calpol in her and some fresh air. We had so much fun and I cannot thank the staff enough for such a wonderful and incredible experience. In itself, the whole evening was amazing and a real once in a lifetime thing to do, but the staff made it even more special, by how welcoming, knowledgable and just how excited they were by it all too. If it was possible to just pick and do any job in the world, a Library or a Museum would be my dream. Being surrounded by all the History and exciting artefacts, always learning new things and passing this knowledge onto children, and making learning exciting, would be perfect. If I can pass on a love for learning to my children, I will be happy. And I think surrounding ourselves with people who are equally as excited, and by going to events such as these, I am on the right path, but definitely if I could work somewhere with events like these and show just one child the excitement of learning, then I would be happy!
Here was our final picture of the kids in front of Dippy saying our good byes. They do both look a little hungover, which I thought was quite funny. Poppet obviously wasn’t feeling too good but Monkey looked excited and thrilled but exhausted all at the same time and I think thats what grown ups look like after a really good night out.
If we get chance to do it again, I would jump at it and if you ever get the opportunity, do it! It was incredible and I will remember it forever. Not only was it amazing but it helped to remind me that my life is pretty great, I have longed for a third baby, and I would love to not be in as much pain as I am sometimes but looking at my beautiful children and taking part in such a wonderful thing, and knowing, you know what I can do so much more with my children. I cannot wait for our next adventure and I say BRING IT ON!!!
I am not sitting back and letting pain or anxiety get the better of me, I want to enjoy my life, spend time with the kids and do things now! We have our first part of our Europe “tour” booked, we are off to Rome in the Summer Holidays and we have lots of exciting day trips or experiences we would like to do, on our ever expanding to do list, and I cannot wait, and I hope you can’t wait to hear all about it, too!
As a final video, here we are saying Goodnight when the room is almost empty! It really was incredible!!!!