Embarking on a long journey with children can be daunting and often a major worry for those travelling to Coombe Mill on holiday. Splitting the journey up with something the children will enjoy in the middle of the day can transform a journey in to a fun part of the holiday. I am often asked for suggestions to do just this. If you are coming via London then I have recommended the Fleet Air Arm museum before. A great adventure and one my children adored from a young age. Jed in fact is still convinced he has been on a real helicopter there. Travelling along the south coast Via the A35 and A30 there is the much loved Peppa Pig World for young children and the Tank Museum for slightly older children. We broke our last journey up at the latter as the triplets were too young to appreciate it last time we visited. Even my older boys, who are now teenagers, look young in the photo below, showing just how long ago it must have been since our last visit.
Even Theo could hardly remember it (the smallest in the photo above) so it was worth a visit. It cost us £50 for 2 adults and 4 children and we felt it was well worth it. Inside you can’t help but be impressed by the machines, even me with little real interest in them, however I did have great satisfaction in telling anyone who would listen that I won a real tank driving competition once on a corporate team building day many years ago!
On arrival at the Tank Museum there was a good list of activities for the day displayed and someone to point us in the right direction. One tank we were able to go inside with a helpful volunteer to answer questions from us on the positions and life in the tank from the WW1 Quite predictably the kids asked lots about gun power and range (4km on the early tanks building to 8km on later ones) and about toilet arrangements, I won’t go into details but it involved bags!
Another tank we were allowed to climb up with more information and questions, this was from a later period and the kids were pleased to hear better toilet facilities on board!
Filled with information from WW1 we were keen to make it over to where a corporate from the local barracks was telling all about life on the front line in the Afghanistan War. He was absolutely brilliant and had all my children captivated. From camp to the all important wash and loo facilities, to the beds and kitchens he walked us through every stage all with its own mock up area for us to see. I must say the sachet of sticky toffee pudding in a packet didn’t look a patch on mine!
The highlight was Clio volunteering to be dressed in their working uniform for the day. In 40 degree heat wearing a huge amount of kit and a backpack of up to 8 stone (Clio was let off this bit) it is no wonder their rations equated to 4000 calories a day and they still looked thin! Well done the Tank Musuem on this section, it was a real highlight for us.
The sheer visual element of the day is what makes it so special, not just the tanks themselves, which for me, one looked much like another but the way it was laid out and even mini toy tank racing for younger children and drawing stations not to mention uniform to try on made it a really family day.
We couldn’t leave without going through the WW1 trenches; this was the part Felix remembered from the last visit. It is very realistic and moving and probably not an area for very young children but mine were captivated. From models sat with shell shock, armoured solders, those on stretchers and the sound of bombs going off and solders talking coming through the loud speakers left a clear impression of how life must have been.
We finished off our visit to the tank museum with a look around the observatory platform and a play in the park before continuing on our way back to Coombe Mill.
I would recommend the tank museum to break up a journey, and if you look on line before you might just catch the tanks in action on the display grounds opposite, we were unlucky on this occasion but have watched them in the past.
“Tales from the farmers wife” shares the funny and interesting happenings on our lovely holiday farm with Farmer Nick and our 6 children. A behind the scenes look on balancing family, farming, the holiday business and cooking for all.
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