Shepherding a class of schoolchildren around a museum is not for the faint-hearted, as the Lovely Melanie discovered yesterday.

She volunteered to help out with Millie’s class trip to the fabulous Natural History Museum – a place I visited while a young lad growing up in Swindon.

Natural History Museum
The Natural History Museum

Even today I can remember the anticipation and awe – not just because we went away from Swindon.  For weeks beforehand there was hushed speculation about how big the dinosaur skeletons would be, how long the journey would take, what kind of bus we’d go on, whether we might see the Queen walking about London and all the other wonders we’d encounter away from Swindon!

Can you imagine…?

Actually, no, you probably can’t.  A young suburban boy’s dreams of the capital were far removed from any reality.


It was almost certainly less of a big deal for Millie, who’s grown up away from Swindon in London, and has furthermore been there at least three times already – the last just a few weeks ago.  But even so, a class of 30 seven and eight-year-olds, suddenly unleashed from a humdrum school day and escaping into the centre of the capital with their friends to see DINOSAURS!!  Blimey.

I texted the Lovely Melanie around lunchtime to see how they were faring.  One word came back a few minutes later.


All caps, no punctuation – very unusual for her.

Everyone enjoyed the day, I was told later, but everyone was knackered by the end – one of the other mum-volunteers even falling asleep on the bus on the way home.  Millie was done for, too – one of her friends catching her ’nuffling, and pointing it out to the Lovely Melanie as a sure sign she was tired.

Hardly surprising, really: the museum had been crowded, the coach was late arriving, every single child wandered off in every single direction, even the slightest change of course (e.g., going to the toilet) was a logistical nightmare.

But all the children came home safely, the Lovely Melanie only made one of them cry, and most of all it was fascinating to see Millie in her natural habitat: out and about with her friends, not constrained (or barely constrained) by adults.

She has a whole other life which we seldom see, but which is not so very different from the Millie we know: happy to follow what other people are doing when it seems interesting, but also happy to do her own thing when it’s not. 🙂

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