I loved Bagpuss when I was a little girl. It was one of my favourite children’s programmes. We have all the episodes on DVD and my girls love it almost as much as I did. They also love watching the Clangers on CBeebies. When I spotted that the River & Rowing Museum in Henley had a Clangers, Bagpuss & Co exhibition, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to see it.
As well as featuring Bagpuss and the Clangers, the exhibition also included Ivor the Engine and Noggin the Nog. It was wonderful to see these classic children’s TV characters up close. We weren’t able to take any photos inside the exhibition though. Jessica and Sophie got very excited when they spotted the little blue planet with Granny Clanger, Small Clanger and the Soup Dragon. We also saw Major Clanger, the Iron Chicken and a Froglet and one of the scripts for an episode of the Clangers. Did you know that the Clangers had specific written dialogue which was “spoken” with a swanee whistle?
Seeing Bagpuss sitting upon his cushion, with Madeleine the rag doll in her rocking chair, Professor Yaffle near his bookend, the mice upon the mouse organ and Gabriel the toad sitting nearby was the highlight for me. I was more excited about it than the children! The dress that Emily wore in each episode was also on display.
I had fun trying my hand at some stop-motion animation and creating a video. It would have been better still though if there had been an option to email yourself the finished video. Jessica and Sophie enjoyed sitting and watching some video clips of Noggin the Nog and the Clangers, while hubby revisited some of his childhood memories looking at the drawings for Ivor the Engine.
I loved the fact there was an activity area for the children in the corner of the exhibition with books and toy Clangers that they could take around the exhibition. Jessica had brought her Small Clanger with us to meet his older relatives and Sophie borrowed Major Clanger to come along too.
After we’d finished looking at Bagpuss and the Clangers, we headed to the Wind in the Willows gallery. This is one of the permanent galleries in the museum. Hubby and I enjoyed this much more than the girls although they’re not yet familiar with the story. They loved being able to go inside Toad’s caravan and explore. However, they found some other parts of the gallery a little scary – particularly the trip through the dark woods.
We were all starting to get hungry by the time we’d finished looking around the gallery so stopped off for some lunch in the Wild Fork café. The food was fairly expensive (£10 for a club sandwich and fries) but was delicious. The sunshine and the outdoors were calling us by the time we’d eaten though. We decided to leave the museum for a while and enjoy the sunshine. The girls had spotted a couple of fairground rides and a bouncy castle, each of which cost £1 per child. Hubby and I enjoyed taking a moment to sit and soak up the sunshine by the river while watching the girls having fun.
Back at the museum, the girls were ready to start looking out for the bunnies which were part of the Easter trail. We found a few in the rowing exhibition where the girls also had fun pretending to row a boat. Sophie’s oar placement was somewhat interesting though so I don’t think they would have got very far!
Hubby and I quite enjoyed a bit of exercise on the rowing machines and the girls had a go too. The next exhibition was all about the River Thames. This was more interesting to hubby than the girls though. Fortunately, there were activities available to keep them occupied while waiting for Daddy.
The final exhibition area we visited was about Henley and its history. Sophie loved dressing up in an Edwardian lady’s outfit while Jessica hunted for the last of the bunnies. Each of the bunnies had a letter which eventually formed the word we needed to get our chocolate egg reward. For the first time, I didn’t need to write the letters down for Jessica. She can now do it all by herself. She did need my help to unscramble the letters and make the word at the end though.
It was a lovely day out and we enjoyed our first visit to the River & Rowing Museum. Entrance to the museum costs £11 for adults and £9 for children aged 4-16. The ticket price gives you an annual pass for the year. There is also a free car park next to the Museum for museum visitors only. The Clangers, Bagpuss & Co exhibition runs until 4th June 2017.