Chiltern Open Air Museum has been a favourite place to visit ever since the girls were babies. Since Jessica died, we’ve not visited it quite as often as we used to though. During half-term, we decided to spend an afternoon there and revisit some of our favourite spots before the museum closed for the winter.
Sophie loves all the sensory trail signs across the museum. She always looks out for them and we have to stop at each one and take a moment to share what we can see, hear, touch or smell depending on which signs there are.
As it was coming up to lunchtime, we went for our usual route – heading to the tea room at the far end of the museum first and then working our way back to the entrance.
We always pass the candle making workshop hut on the way to and from the tea rooms but rarely stop unless we have older cousins with us. This time I thought Sophie might enjoy giving it a try. There are a few different types of candles that children can make here. The one Sophie liked most looked a bit complicated for a first attempt though. We decided she could make a couple of simpler ones instead. She had fun rolling up the coloured beeswax and adding a little wax motif to finish off the candles.
There are three places that we always have to go to whenever visiting the museum – the playground, the Thame Vicarage room and the Amersham Prefab, both of which have a selection of vintage toys to play with. Unfortunately two out of the three were closed on this visit. The playground was closed because of recent bad weather. It’s in a little dip and there are lots of grassy slopes which become very slippery when wet and muddy.
The Thame Vicarage room was closed due to preparations for the Halloween event later that week. Fortunately the toys had been taken outside so she could still enjoy playing with them on the village green.
Thomas also enjoyed getting out of the buggy and being able to explore a little. He’s still a bit unsteady on his feet when exploring outside but having the picnic bench to hold on to helped. We had to be quick setting up Sophie’s domino rally though before he wobbled the bench and knocked it over though. The joys of having a younger sibling on the move and keen to join in with play! It took a couple of attempts but we got there in the end.
Sophie is very good with Thomas though. She loves taking his hands and encouraging him to walk and is always so proud of his little milestones. It is lovely to see that beautiful bond they have. It takes me back to all those days out at the museum watching her and Jessica together. The way Sophie is with Thomas is so much like how Jessica was with her.
We rolled some coins into the well on the village green and heard the water sprites respond. No doubt Sophie made a wish too. I used to do the same at wishing wells. These days the one wish I would make is one that I know can never be granted.
There are memories of my girls almost everywhere we go at Chiltern Open Air Museum, and especially so at the Amersham Prefab which was always their favourite place. I miss seeing my girls play together here, but it is nice now that Thomas is able to start joining in and play a little more with Sophie.
One place that doesn’t have any memories of Jessica though is the WW1 Nissen Bow hut which was a new addition to the museum last year. Sophie enjoyed having a look around inside this.
It was lovely to enjoy the autumn sunshine and see Thomas starting to explore some of his sisters’ favourite spots. Days out at the museum will always be bittersweet without Jessica. She certainly would have loved seeing Thomas play with some of the toys and would have been a very helpful big sister to him and Sophie. There are so many happy memories here though, bringing smiles as well as sadness, and we will share them with Thomas as he gets bigger.
Visiting Chiltern Open Air Museum – what you need to know:
Chiltern Open Air Museum
Chalfont St Giles
The museum is open daily, 10am – 5pm, from late March – late October. For more information, visit the museum website here.