Top UK Museums – Titanic Belfast

Titanic Belfast

About Titanic Belfast

Next, on my Top UK museums adventure, is Titanic Belfast. We visited as a family in February this year and really enjoyed the whole experience. Located on Belfast docks, it is the largest Titanic experience in the world and offers a unique and interactive way to learn about the history of the Titanic.

Titanic BelfastThe Star of the Show.

One of the most talked-about exhibits in the museum is the shipyard ride. This short electronic ride allows you to immerse yourself in the conditions and what went on when the ship was built. It breaks up walking around the museum and grabs the attention of visitors especially the kids.

My Favourite place

I enjoyed the end of the museum when the stories of the passengers you have been following throughout the tour come to an end, and you find out what became of them. The mixing of sad and happy stories and also a way to remember individuals who were affected by the tragedy.

Some other great exhibits

From the Launch experience, the decor and insides of the ship through the decks and classes to the sinking and the aftermath. The museum takes you on a journey of the life of the ship.

Titanic Belfast - Tara Bruton
Second Class Cabin Titanic Belfast – Tara Bruton

Facilities

Excellent facilities are available for visitors. There’s free Wi-Fi
throughout the building,  locker storage facility where you can leave your bags for just £1.  Car and Coach Parking is available so it’s an easy place to drive to during your trip.
You’ll find two restaurants with a wide range of options,  Bistro 401 restaurant and the Galley Café. There’s also a souvenir shop to pick up memorabilia from your visit.

Getting there and when to visit.

Titanic Belfast is open daily all year round, excluding 24th – 26th December from 10 am to 5 pm off peak and 9 am to 7 pm during peak season.  Entrance fees are £18 for adults and £8 for children aged 5 to 16 years.

Check out some of my posts on other Top UK museums, The British Museum and The Victoria and Albert.

Have you been to Titanic Belfast? What did you think?

 

Top UK Museums – Victoria and Albert

Next on my top UK museums series is the Victoria and Albert museum in London.  I was quite surprised at how good this museum is, not really knowing much about it before my visit.  However, it is a great space and there are so many amazing collections to see. I will be returning!

Victoria and Albert Museum

About the Victoria and Albert Museum

Holding National collections as well as many resources for study, the museum boasts a variety of well-positioned exhibits for its visitors to enjoy. There are an amazing  2.3 million objects that span over 5,000 years of human creativity here in this museum! Do you love art and design? Exhibitions focus on fashion, textiles, jewellery and architecture from across the globe.

The Star of the Show.

Top UK museums Victoria and Albert

It’s hard to believe these beautiful paintings were merely a guide for weavers to make tapestries.  These full-scale paintings depict scenes from the lives of St Peter and St Paul and commissioned by Pope Leo X in 1515. The works have been owned by the British Royal Family since 1623 and have been on loan to the Museum since 1865. Wow, what a lot of history! Head to room 48a to marvel at this artwork.

My Favourite place

Cast Courts, room 46b Victoria and Albert
Image from V&A

I have to say I loved the  Cast Courts. The room features reproductions of Italian Renaissance monuments including a five-metre high cast of Michelangelo’s David. I know they are not the real thing but they are pretty impressive.

Some other great exhibits

Victoria and Albert Museum
Victoria and Albert Museum CC BY-SA 3.0,

You’ll find some great Asian art and objects in the Victoria and Albert museum. I think you should check out the samurai in the Japanese exhibit. The Tipu’s Tiger’, a carved and lacquered wooden semi-automaton in the South Asia rooms. As well as the mosaics and textiles in the Islamic Middle East exhibit.

Facilities

You can get to the museum very easily as it has an entrance from the museum tunnels.  It is accessible for families and has cloakrooms, toilets and baby change facilities and is wheelchair accessible too.

The V&A cafe is legendary and is something to see itself. The beautiful art deco decorated dining room is a lovely place to have a bite to eat. Book ahead or get there early for a good table.

Getting there and when to visit.

Admission to the museum is free of charge and opening times are: Every day from 10 am to 545 pm and extended until 10 pm on Fridays.  I visited on a Saturday afternoon and it wasn’t too busy so weekend visits shouldn’t be a problem.

Did you like this post? Let me know in the comments below and check out my other posts in this series. The British museum and the Natural History Museum.

Natural History Museum – Top UK Museums

Another post in my top UK museums series, this time it’s the Natural History Museum in London.

Natural history museum StegasaurusAbout the Natural History Museum.

I love the Natural History Museum it is such an amazing attraction to visit, but did you know it is also a world-renowned science research centre too?  Around 80 million items within five main collections can be found here. These collections are categorised as botany, entomology, mineralogy, palaeontology and zoology.The Star of the Show.

The Star of the Show.

To enjoy the best experience in the museum, take the escalator in the Earth Galleries. Through the giant rotating globe into the collection of the story of the earth.  Learn about global phenomenon and try the authentic earthquake simulator.

Earth Gallery - Natural History Museum

My favourite place.

OK, so as you know my daughter is only 8 months old and it was just me and her on this visit, but I loved the interactive exhibits, which are especially great for families! The animatronic T-Rex was absolutely fantastic and also pretty scary. The original Jurassic park was released when I was a child so I was amazed by the collection of dinosaur skeletons. The dinosaur exhibit was definitely my favourite place, you will love it too!

Some other great exhibits.

It’s difficult to tell you where the best exhibits are in the museum because I would probably just tell you to see every single one! However, I know that everyone does not have the time to visit every single object in the museum. So if you have to choose, as well as the dinosaurs make sure you see the Ecology and Origins exhibits. You won’t regret the choice.

Natural History Museum

Facilities.

If you need it wheelchair access is available all the way through the museum and you can borrow wheelchairs free of charge at both the Exhibition Road entrance and the Darwin entrance.

If you need to use the cloakroom check the tariffs and plan ahead as if you have luggage it might cost a lot to store.

Getting there and when to visit.

The museum is open daily 1000-1750 and admission is free however, there is a charge for some temporary exhibitions. If you visit on a weekday you’ll find it less crowded and better for young visitors.

Have you been to the Natural History Museum? What did you think? Tell me in the comments below.

Top UK museums – The British Museum

Top UK Museums – The British Museum.

So I have decided to make the most of the remainder of my maternity leave and take some trips with my daughter.. ( and sometimes bring the husband) to visit the top museums in the UK. The British Museum was on the list already for our trip to London in December, so this is where I will start.

2016 review British Museum
The British museum London 2016 review.

About the British Museum.

The British Museum was founded in 1753. Proudly the first National Public Museum in the World and it is free to enter and explore. The galleries feature artefacts from across the globe.  Collections include Americas, Ancient Egypt, Africa, Asia, Ancient Rome and Greece, Europe and the Middle East. There are also Themes including Enlightenment ,Collecting the world and Living and Dying .

The Star of the Show.

The Rosetta stone is the most interesting and iconic artefact you will find in the British Museum. A ground breaking discovery containing script in both ancient Greek and Hieroglyphics. Meaning we can now decipher the meaning of Hieroglyphics today.

Rosetta stone

My favourite place.

The enlightenment gallery! From reading the titles of the historic books to the busts and sculptures dotting the room. This is my favourite place to walk through and explore within the museum.

As described by the British museum itself: The Enlightenment was an age of reason and learning that flourished across Europe and America from about 1680 to 1820. This rich and diverse permanent exhibition uses thousands of objects to demonstrate how people in Britain understood their world during this period. It is housed in the King’s Library, the former home of the library of King George III.

Enlightenment.

Some other great exhibits.

The Ancient Egypt and Ancient Greece exhibits are undisputed  amongst the most interesting exhibits  in the museum. If not only purely due to the scale of some of the items on display.  Partial temples and giant statues will transport you back to ancient times as you wander through these fascinating pieces.

Facilities.

The facilities here are actually pretty great. Especially for families! There’s a family centre with lockers to store pushchairs and any other luggage, benches and tables to eat packed lunches and feed babies and ample changing facilities. There’s a restaurant and two cafes with a good selection of food and drinks on offer with plenty of seating. The museum is wheelchair accessible and easy to get about for wheelchair users.  There is also a large gift shop with a lovely wide selection of souvenirs and replicas.

Download a floor plan here  https://www.britishmuseum.org/PDF/pdfA4_allfloors.pdf

Floor plan

Getting there and when to visit.

The museum is easily reached by walking from London Euston train station and the nearest tube stations are Tottenham Court Road and Holborn.

Admission to the British museum is free and is open daily 10.00–17.30 and on Fridays until 20.30.

I have to say I’m very proud of this museum and would recommend more people in the UK to visit. Have you been? What was your favourite part? Let me know in the comments below 🙂

 

Visit Birmingham – Top 10 reasons

Visit Birmingham

Top 10 reasons to visit Birmingham, UK.

Visit Birmingham
Birmingham city from the air

A lot of people don’t realise that Birmingham is Englands second city. That’s right! Not Manchester or Liverpool – Birmingham! There are so many reasons to visit Birmingham. Whether you are from the UK and looking for a city break or visiting the UK from abroad and wondering where to stop on your road trip. Birmingham is a great place to explore and here are my top 10 reasons why….

1) Shopping.

Birmingham has become one of the best shopping cities in the UK. The famous bullring shopping centre has a wide range of shops for all budgets. Including four fabulous floors in the renowned Selfridges.

For vintage finds and unique boutiques head to the custard factory in the Digbeth area. If you are lucky there will be a vintage fair or show. Excellent for one-off pieces and rare gems.

For the fashion conscious to the bargain hunter. Birmingham has got something for everyone.

Visit Birmingham
Selfridges at Birmingham bullring.

2) Museums and Art galleries.

There are lots of interesting exhibits in and around Birmingham. Perfect for art lovers. The museum and art gallery in Victoria square is home of the Staffordshire hoard. The biggest Anglo-saxon gold and silver metalwork ever found. In addition to this there is a baroque art collection and the history of Birmingham exhibit.

As well as the main museum, there is the Thinktank science museum. This is a great place to take kids for interactive learning and discovery.

A smaller art gallery can be found at Birmingham University. The Barber Institute is home to some spectacular paintings.  Famous artists work including Turner, Van Gough, Monet and Renoir.

Visit Birmingham
Birmingham museum and art gallery Victoria square.

Continue reading “Visit Birmingham – Top 10 reasons”

How traveling has made me less British

How traveling has made me less British

Traveling has made me less British (Slightly)

How traveling has made me less British

I know there is a British stereotype. We are reserved, ‘the stiff upper lip’. However I have never included myself as a stereotypical Brit. On reflection I have realised just how much of these traits I carry with me. This being said I have changed through visiting different places and traveling has made me less British.

Whilst abroad I have noticed just how British I am sometimes, and have learned a few things along the way. It’s strange how much you learn more about your own culture when you experience others.

Saying sorry

‘Oh I’m sorry’ (You clearly just bumped into me but I’m going to apologise anyway..) Why on earth do we feel like we have to say sorry on every occasion.

‘I’m sorry, can I get the bill please?’

‘I’m sorry, I would like to buy this please’

I have heard myself say sorry in situations that are totally unnecessary. Whilst traveling I have realised that not only do I sound ridiculous but no one else does this. I have made an effort to quit the habit. I no longer apologise unless I really really mean it!

traveling made me less British

Sharing a table with strangers

There isn’t a table free. Well we will have to find somewhere else. For some reason British people like their space. What we might have to talk to other people?

I’m now quite happy to embrace the long tables and benches in beer halls, restaurants and bars. I can ask if the two chairs are free in a table of four in a bar that I want to try (without apologising for it). Actually sometimes sitting and speaking to others has added to our experiences. I have learned that these situations don’t have to be as awkward as they initially seemed. I might now be one of the annoying people who makes conversation..

Queuing

So, we like an orderly queue in Britain. But this is not the case in some other places I have visited. I was surprised to find ‘mob queuing’ at attractions in the USA. No orderly lines or formality, just kind of herding along. I found the same in other countries too especially at airports where there seems to be no rules in queuing for passport control!

I think it’s because we don’t want to offend? But I am no longer embarrassed, to save myself time when traveling I am still polite but just go with it!

Speaking up

I would never speak up. I could wait forever to get a bill. Never want to be included in a debate or a show, or ask a question on a tour.

I am still working on this skill which for other nationalities seems to come naturally. However I am much better than I used to be. I danced on stage at a lady boy show in Chiang Mai and got attention in a restaurant in Venice when others were being ignored.   A small start but I am getting there. 🙂

The great thing is there are some things that have changed for the better. AND I have spoken to so many people who love Great Britain!

Traveling made me less British
Traveling has made me less British

I am proud to be British. I love the Royal Family especially the Queen. I love the currency, the history, afternoon tea and fish and chips! Oh and of course the good old British pub!

It’s a shame that flying the Union Jack has become a symbol of racism in Britain today. Visiting other countries has made me understand there is nothing wrong with patriotism. Whilst wandering around many cities such as Venice and Barcelona you will see many flags flying proudly.

So although I have lost some of my British ways, traveling has helped me to become a better person. More open-minded and accepting of differences. I have found qualities in other cultures that I want to develop and find in myself.

Do you agree? Tell me what you think…

 

The Barber Institute Birmingham

The Barber Institute is a lesser known art gallery in Birmingham but has some great paintings on display.

Barber Institute

Located in the Birmingham University grounds this art gallery has an amazing collection of paintings. You will find Van Gough, Turner, Monet, Renoir and Rubens to mention a few.

Coined as one of the finest small art galleries in Europe. The Barber Institute is a must-see for art lovers visiting Birmingham.

As I walked around the gallery I enjoyed the intimate atmosphere. I took time to study the paintings without a crowd gathering around me. The works are thoughtfully presented and laid out. Making the visit flow through styles and ages.

The Barber Institute
‘The Peacock feather’ Antonio Mancini

The Barber Institute was founded in 1932 by Lady Barber in memory of her husband (William) Henry Barber. Upon her death four months later, she left the Barber fortune to the Institute. This enabled the building to be designed and built before being officially opened by Queen Mary in 1939.

The Barber Institute

Today the institute continues the legacy ‘for the Study and encouragement of art and music’.

Current exhibits include ‘The Modernist Face SMITH, DOBSON & BRITISH PORTRAITURE 1920-60’ My favourite painting in this exhibit was a portrait of Roald Dahl by Sir Matthew Arnold Bracy Smith. This exhibit runs until 27th September.

Barber Institute
Sir Matthew Arnold Bracy Smith’s portrait of Roald Dahl 1944

Other exhibits currently on show are FROM ‘RED’ ELLEN TO OSWALD MOSLEY  PORTRAITS OF INTER-WAR POLITICIANS BY EDMUND KAPP. and a Roman coin collection ‘Inheriting Rome’.

The Barber Institute is open Monday to Friday 10am-5pm and at weekends 11am-5pm. Admission is free, however a donation can be made which is suggested at £5.

Find out more the collection and events here: The Barber Institute

Crime museum Scotland Yard

The Crime museum

Also known as the Black Museum, the Crime museum Scotland Yard in London contains some rarely seen exhibits from the criminal world.

I have visited some macabre places, Sedlec Ossuary at Kutna Hora, The museum and grounds at Auschwitz but this is a different sort of museum.

The Black Museum, the crime museum
Image from Timeout.com The Crime Museum Scotland Yard

The Crime museum Scotland Yard is a closed museum and I was very lucky to get the chance to take the tour. The curator walked us around some of the main exhibits imparting his extensive knowledge of the broad range of articles on show. Then we were given our handsets, free to explore and listen to the stories behind the exhibits of our choice.

The museum was originally set up to train Police Officers on how to detect and prevent burglary. From 1877 a visit to the museum was part of CID training and it was in this year the museum got its name ‘The black museum’ as a reporter was refused entrance. Today the museum is visited by Police Officers and staff from around the world.

As you walk around the museum, there are many faces looking back at you. The death masks of criminals of the past, hung at Newgate Prison for their crimes.

An array of hanging ropes are on display, showing the difference in design through the ages. I was surprised to learn that the last hanging in England was in 1964. Interestingly two men were hanged at exactly the same time so no one would have the title of last man executed in the UK.

Ruth Ellis.jpg The crime museum
Ruth Ellis wikipedia The Crime Museum Scotland Yard

The exhibit of Ruth Ellis, the last woman to be hanged in the UK caught my attention. The curator explained the story. Convicted of killing her partner after a turbulent and violent relationship in April 1955. Just 3 months after the offence she was executed by hanging in July 1955. This case, a crime of passion, causes debate even to this day.

More details of the famous executioner Albert Pierrepoint, responsible for over 400 executions and the history of hangings in the UK were explained by the curator.

Moving further around the museum we were shown weapons of all shapes and sizes. All of which had been used or found on criminals to be used on the streets of the UK. Walking stick and umbrella guns. Knives disguised as every day objects. These criminals were inventive. One saving grace was the thought they were no longer out there on the streets to be used.

As we were shown through to the more recent exhibits, the crimes became more real. The bath used by serial killer Dennis Nilsen to keep body parts and the pot used to boil the heads of his victims on the cooker. Everyday objects connected to such brutal crimes.

Terrorism exhibits, some replicas, show how the face of crime in the UK is changing. The lengths terrorists will go to and what the Police are up against.

A case dedicated to Police Officers who have been killed in the line of duty was particularly emotional. The museum really shows the dangers and difficulties Police Officers face every day and where unfortunately some pay the ultimate price.

The museum tells a story. Not a history of the police but a history of how crime is investigated and evidence is gathered. The museum highlights the changing times and technology which reflects the way crimes and criminals are dealt with today.

I left in a sober mood but also with intrigue.

Of course, one of the most famous crime stories in London is the case of Jack the Ripper. The notes made by investigating officers of the time were a fascinating read. But I will leave you with the mystery of who was Jack the Ripper?

 

Although the Crime Museum is not open to the public, some of the exhibits will be on show at the Museum of London from 9 October 2015 – 10 April 2016