Last week Trev left us for 4 days to go to a conference in Liverpool. I hate it when he’s away. Despite having lived here for 18 months now I still feel weird being here when he’s not. The connection to here is him. I always feel a bit lost, even though I’d be without him for most of each day anyway if he was working from his office. It’s strange to rely on just my new friends, made mostly at mum and toddler groups, to be my only source of adult interaction. As it turned out, me and Iris (and Trev too actually, poor thing ) had rotten colds and my desire to run away back to Bristol for few days (not possible with the dog!) was not so strong this time.
By Wednesday though I was feeling glum. I needed a change of scenery. I suggested checking out Techniquest to some of my mum friends, and thankfully one of them was free and fancied a day out. Her boy is a few months older than Iris, but they get on well and seem to enjoy each other’s company.
We got the train from Pontypridd to Cardiff Queen Street. I was nervous about changing here. I’d heard that they had no lifts and I’d have to carry Iris and her pushchair up and down the stairs between platforms. I had to cope with this a few weeks ago at Bristol Parkway and wasn’t looking forward to doing it again. However the brand new lifts were up and running, and we were soon on our next train. The train from Queen Street to Cardiff Bay runs every 12 minutes, and Techniquest is a short easy walk from there. We arrived at lunchtime. Iris had slept most of the way there, and all of us were rather hungry. So obviously the cafe was shut. Brilliant. We paid anyway and got our wristbands allowing us to come and go, and headed off in search of food (and coffee, as I’m so bloody tired all the time lately). I’m sure Cardiff Bay has a lot more to offer, and I hope to go back to explore, but we just couldn’t be bothered and Iris had somehow twisted her nappy and had wee all down her leg. So, Starbucks. After my first pumpkin spiced thing of the year and lots of stuff containing melty cheese, we were ready.
It was HEAVING with school children. There were at least 3 separate school trips in there. Why do they always seem so grown up? They didn’t bother me though, and Iris isn’t phased at all by older children. I guess she’s just used to being around her big sisters. Off she went, and I just followed. When we first arrive at any new place there’s not much point in trying to guide Iris or get involved in what she wants to do. She just wants to run from one thing to the next and absorb it all. She then takes a longer look at each thing a bit later, when the excitement has worn off. Keeping track of her amongst the big kids wasn’t easy, and I know my friend had even more trouble with her faster and much more stable on his feet kiddo.
Most of the exhibits were way over Iris’s head, in more ways than one. I ended up lifting her up onto many of them, so she was basically sat IN the exhibit. Nobody seemed to mind though. There were a lot of staff milling about occasionally calling out “please stop running” to the school kids but nobody told me to get Iris down. Obviously she had no idea what any of the sciencey stuff really means. Her favourite thing was a demonstration of probability, but to her it was just a tube to put orange balls in and watch them get whizzed away towards the ceiling. Actually, I think she could have done that all day long quite happily.
There were things containing bubbles and things containing fish. Bubbles and fish are two of a toddler’s favourite things. I am yet to meet a toddler (and I’ve met hundreds) that doesn’t love bubbles and fish
Things that make noise are also a big hit with my tiny person and there are lots of those, my favourite being a piano you can run up and down on and dance around a bit. Iris didn’t get it to start with, and just sat on it watching the school kids and getting in their way.
And then, at the back of the place, there’s the water play. Unfortunately it was also very slightly out of Iris’s reach, but you’d never have guessed that from how soaked she managed to get. If you go, take spare clothes. Lots of spare clothes. My friend’s kid actually put his head in a fountain. They were both drenched.
Suddenly, at around 2:30, the place went silent. Absolutely deadly silent, apart from the whoosh of a hot air balloon flying up to the roof. The schools had left. Why on earth hadn’t this occurred to us? It’s open til 4:30 during the week (but closed on Mondays in term time), and two hours is probably long enough for the tiny ones. Next time we go I plan to go on one of their toddler days (the next one is 6th November) or after 2:30. As much as the school children didn’t bother us, our second go on everything after they had left was much nicer. Watching and keeping track of speedy Iris was much easier too.
The gift shop is pretty cool, with a good mix of proper educational stuff and cheap things for pocket money. We came away with yet more plastic animals destined for a life in our bathtub.
I’m now in trouble with the big step kids for going without them, but that’s ok because I can’t wait to go back again!
*Nobody asked me to write this or compensated me in anyway. I paid the full £7 adult entry fee. I just felt like letting you all know how much fun we had! Find the Techniquest website here for more information. *