Sunday, 29 April 2012

Mummy on the Edge

May June 2012

It was a long school holiday, after everyone had gone bonkers and the telly said that the petrol pumps had run dry, and I had got into the dangerously comfortable habit of not leaving the house. You may struggle to believe this, but I am exceedingly lazy and have, shall we say, reclusive tendencies. Mini-Me had her bike and the nearby park, not to mention a copious supply of brain-pokeage from maths work printed from the interweb. Although I hadn't been shopping for a week and had a date-sensitive £5 Tesco coupon that was burning a hole somewhere in the footwell of my car, I decided not to venture out into the apocalypse but instead to stay home and make do. Luckily, I am gifted with a special talent (no, not THAT). I am able to produce comestible slop using items from my fridge that others may politely regard as half dead. Listen: a pepper past its prime is no impediment to a perfectly palatable pasta.

By the time I had worked my way through risotto al fridge bottom, frozen pastry, and various shades of lentil, I thought that Mini-Me must be fed up of me and my slop. I was certainly fed up of myself... So it was time to venture out into the open world. I'd been meaning to take Mini-Me to the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre in Great Missenden for a few years. And now, I thought it would be a fun and educational break from homework and from my mad “it's-a-jungle-out-there” type behaviour. Plus, I thought, it was just up the road from Mill End where I teach Sing and Sign on a Tuesday so it wouldn't take that long to get there. I performed the usual day-out ritual of wasting a silly amount of the day trawling for some sort of exciting lunch/ dinner place near the museum that would offer 50% off or two-for-one on production of my special card. The wonderful thing and paradoxically, also the very, very worst thing about yielding to the magical promise of the Tastecard is that once you are sick to death of Pizza Express, one ends up trying eating places that one wouldn't otherwise try. It's like restaurant Russian roulette. Plus, one is lulled into a false sense of bargainousness – like when we used it for desert at Café Rouge, when it would have been better value to opt for the in-house offer of dessert and coffee for £3.95.

Of course, the museum was a bit further away than I thought, and because of the 4 way single alternate lane traffic light situation at the junction of the M25 it took ages to get there. But never mind, because Mini-Me amused herself by having a really good slow-mo nose at all the huge and beautiful mansions on Chorleywood Road. Which one would we buy when we'd sold as many books as Roald Dahl?

The museum comprises three galleries, a craft room, “Miss Honey's Classroom” for story telling and Café Twit, all arranged around a central courtyard. The “Boy” gallery, based on his book of the same name which Mini-Me had recently read, looked at Dahl's childhood. Mini-Me's said it was her favourite because of the chocolate entrance; details about his mischief with a dead mouse and sweetshop whilst at boarding school; reading Dahl's handwrittten childhood letters to his mother and, heartbreakingly how he used to sleep facing the direction of home in Llandaff, Wales. My favourite was the new “Solo” gallery because they have transported Dahl's actual writing hut with its tobacco stained interior; drawings on the walls; bizarre objets of inspiration and broken anglepoise lamp fixed by a towel and a suspended golf ball, all faithfully reconstructed for posterity.

We enjoyed a free storytelling of Cinderella from Revolting Rhymes with audience participation, (bumping into a Sing and Sign family I taught 7 years ago!) Lucky for Mini-Me I didn't volunteer myself as an ugly sister. The thing we didn't do, which we should have and would have, had I not been worried about getting stuck in traffic on the way back, was stop in at Café Twit for a slice of Bogtrotter cake and cup of Whizpopper hot chocolate.

We came home and Mini-Me explained how she was inspired by the advice of Jacqueline Wilson, Michael Morpurgo, and J. K. Rowling, that appeared around the museum; whilst I prepared end-of-the-world slopperdooperoney, with a side of whizzcracking flangdroppers... Mmm, dewishus!

For more Life on the Edge and Angelina's recipe for slopperdooperoney, visit Angelina runs award winning Sing and Sign baby signing classes. More info at

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