Last week, I wrote about how much we enjoy going on ‘Travel One-to-Ones’ when one parent takes one child and does something special together, just the two of them.
A while ago, we did just that. My husband took Edward, our eldest, to the Royal Air Force Museum while Harry and I visited Windsor Castle. The trips were specially chosen for each boy. The Royal Air Force Museum in London is one of the biggest aviation museums in the world. Edward is fascinated by aircraft and has read the Haynes Manual on the RAF Typhoon from cover to cover. Harry, by contrast, is obsessed with everything to do with history and is a big fan of the Royal Family. Windsor Castle has been the family home of British kings and queens for almost 1,000 years. It is one of the oldest and largest inhabited castles in the world. Harry even came home with one of the Queen’s corgis.
The boys have written their own accounts of their visits. I hope you enjoy it.
Windsor Castle is the best castle I’ve ever been to because it’s the biggest castle I’ve ever been to, there are some very famous monarchs buried there and the Queen ACTUALLY lives there.
Windsor Castle is a royal residence of Her Majesty the Queen. It is in fact her favourite residence in England! If you see her standard flying above the Round Tower it means she is at home.
My favourite part was the State Apartments because they are so grand and full of history. I also liked St George’s Hall because it looked like it was decorated with a thousand suits of armour. You can even see King Henry VIII’s huge suit of armour in the castle.
Another sight to see is Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House which is a gigantic, beautiful dolls’ house. It has even got running water and electricity! Even though it is supposed to be a country mansion, they’ve made a room for the Crown Jewels! You can also see Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret’s dolls. They’re beautiful dolls and their clothes are on show as well – fur coats, silk petticoats and diamond tiaras.
I also loved the dragons outside St George’s Gate because they looked so magical. In the activity room you can colour in paper crowns and copy pictures of famous kings and queens. I also dressed up in a coronation robe and put a diamond diadem on my head. Then I chose a picture frame and stood behind it for my photo.
Windsor Castle has a beautiful Gothic chapel which is called St George’s Chapel. It is the resting place of many famous kings and queens of England, even King Henry VIII and Jane Seymour! I was excited and a bit scared when I realised Henry VIII was buried there. I wish I could have seen his actual tomb.
You can even see the Changing of the Guard at Windsor Castle. It is the perfect place for all the family, especially children.
Best Bit: The State Apartments
Worst Bit: You can’t take photos of the State Apartments and the dragon on the children’s audio guide sounds like an elephant.
Windsor Castle http://www.royalcollection.org.uk/visit/windsorcastle is open daily. Adults, £19.20; children, £11.30.
THE ROYAL AIR FORCE MUSEUM
On my way to the Royal Air Force Museum in Hendon I was feeling really excited as I am very interested in planes and fighter aircraft, but what I found there far surpassed my expectations. It was even more impressive than the Viking exhibition at the British Museum.
Outside the museum are two of the most iconic British aircraft that served during World War II – the Hurricane and the Spitfire. Although they’re fibreglass copies, they are extremely impressive. Inside however, it is awe inspiring. The first gallery we went to was the Milestones of Flight, which contains all the most important aircraft since the Blériot XI, the first aircraft to fly over the English Channel. There was even a Mustang, a Messerschmitt Me262 and a Eurofighter Typhoon.
The Eurofighter is the most advanced aircraft currently serving in the RAF. To stand next to an actual Eurofighter was astonishing. Because it is so impressive they even have an actual flight simulator for you to go in. You can sit inside the cockpit while the aeroplane does somersaults. It felt really realistic and was a lot of fun.
Next was the Bomber Hall with the impressive Avro Lancaster, famous for its bouncing bombs during WWII. They also had the Messerschmitt Bf109G and the jaw-dropping Vulcan that led so many bombing missions during the Falkland Islands Conflict. It was huge!
After that was Historic Hangers where you can see helicopters like the Westland Wessex. The best bit in this room was the jets. I liked the English Electric Lightning best. It was the first British aeroplane to reach twice the speed of sound. There was even a jet you could climb into and move the rudder in the controls, and another simulator.
The Battle of Britain Hall is a memorial to the RAF’s ‘Finest Hour’. The greatest things here were just four planes: two from the RAF and two from the German Luftwaffe. You have probably heard about them – the Spitfire, the Hurricane, the Messerschmitt and the Junkers. You can also see a film of the battle.
At the museum there is an interactive centre with lots of things to do to help you understand all about the science of flight.
Best Bit: The Milestones of Flight gallery because that is where the planes I was most interested in were – the Eurofighter and the Blériot.
Worst Bit: It’s so big that you can’t do it all in one visit but the good thing about that is that you can go again and experience something different.
The Royal Air Force Museum http://www.rafmuseum.org.uk is open daily. Admission is free.
COMING UP NEXT: The Dos and Don’ts of Flying With Children