Saturday, September 25, 2010

Sponsored post: Free time at the museum

In Catcher in the Rye, the hero talks evocatively about visiting his city's museum on a rainy afternoon. When I was younger, if we were out shopping, my mother would sometimes leave us to amuse ourselves in the town museum -- it was (and still is) free, and warm and out of the rain. She would come back 20 minutes later and we would still be crouched by the first case, entranced by the animals marching two-by-two into Noah's Ark. We also discovered that if you trod on a certain place on the floor, a single piece of meat in the toy butcher's shop would swing. The next room was set aside for natural history. We would stand and stare at the case of drooping privet leaves, hoping to see a stick insect move -- or at least some stick insect poo falling to the floor.

The village where I grew up had a museum, too -- and for us children, the most talked-about item was a mummified rat that someone had found while restoring their house. In my memory, it is the size of a small cat, with bared teeth. I went back recently, and it seems to have shrunk.

The museums in London were also huge treat -- we had our favourite items in each, and would dart in just to see one thing, which was worthwhile because they were free. At the Natural History Museum, I was content to see the brontosaurus skeleton right by the entrance and then leave. My little sister would always insist that we climbed to the top of the hall, though. Small and determined, she would march through the collection of stuffed mammals to find her Fairy Pink Armadillo -- wrinkled and white and whiskery no bigger than your hand.

In the V&A, there is a gallery dedicated to cast iron, and they have a 1960s casserole dish on display exactly the same as the one my mother had at home. Looking at it in a glass case gave me such a strange, shivery feeling -- as if, you know, maybe, we ourselves would one day be history. I still walk through that gallery whenever I visit the V&A -- even though I have now inherited my mother's red casserole dish and could look at it any time I want.

And once you have had enough of treasures, why not grab some food. Pizza Hut is offering a Kids Eat Free deal, which runs now until 9 January 2011. For every adult main course or adult lunchtime buffet purchased, an accompanying child can choose from either a FREE 2 course kids meal (includes a drink) or a FREE kids lunchtime buffet (includes pizza, pasta and salad). Find more details about the offer at

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