What is going on this year? Is this the worst summer ever? Even on days where it is sunny, it’s not as warm as it should be, and inevitably it will rain at some point. I can only hope the summer holidays might actually be good this year, although it’s hard to imagine that right now as I look out of the window to yet more torrential rain.
I just needed to get that off my chest. Now I can regale you with details of our family trip to Brighton on Sunday.
I’d kindly been invited along to the Sea Life Centre to review its Octonauts experience, which runs until this Sunday.
As well as all the usual experiences the centre has to offer, young recruits and their families taking part in this special experience were given a mission as soon as they arrived to act as ‘captain’ for the day.
We had to scour the site to search for Captain Barnacles, who had gone missing after an undersea storm swept him away.
Regular readers I’m sure will remember that Octonauts made it onto my top five list of children’s TV programmes on the CBeebies channel.
So it’s safe to say the Octonauts mission was a real added bonus for our family.
We arrived at our allotted time slot, and were duly allowed inside. The children were at an excitement level of 20 out of 10, so as soon as they saw the first tank of fish, they were off.
Now I don’t know what I was thinking, but in my head I was imagining a sedate walk through the attraction, taking in every tank and reading all the information about the creatures contained within.
But obviously a seven and three-year-old don’t operate in that way, so what we actually did was race through the exhibits in a random order, at breakneck speed, before doubling back on ourselves and looking at certain things again.
My husband found it funny I had such serene expectations, but I just love browsing tourist attractions and soaking up the information in a very leisurely fashion, I think I just forgot kids don’t do this (I still have such fond memories of an audio tour I did of the Roman Baths in, well, Bath, several years ago, which was narrated by my all-time favourite author Bill Bryson. I stopped at literally every information point, much to my husband’s exasperation. It took hours – it was the best day ever!).
So yes, we raced round the centre a little, although this didn’t hamper the kids’ enjoyment of it. In fact, I think the ability to self-guide made it more fun. It was, in fact, the Octonauts element that made them slow down and fill in their explorer guides. So, for this reason alone, I’d say it’s great. Children love a ‘way in’ to learning, and the familiarity of a TV show was definitely that.
After a couple of hours, we were all sea-creatured out. We headed down to the beach, and looked in some of the shops on the way. Wow, was it busy. Even though it was a pretty overcast on Sunday, there were still lots of people down there. After a spot of lunch and an ice cream, we headed home.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Brighton. I was born there and always enjoy days out there. But after the frenetic pace of the city, arriving home in Worthing is a joy. Sure, it gets busy here, too, but somehow it always feels more controlled. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: there really is nowhere else I’d rather be than our little corner of the world.
The Octonauts event is on until Sunday (July 11). To book, visit the website.