Sunday, 10 May 2009

Gloucester Docks

I'm not quite sure why the cub-scout brigade wanted to go to Gloucester Docks for the day, but I'm glad they did. It was Mel's first day out with the group so I decided to go with them. There were about 10 cubs and maybe 6 adults that we picked up with the coach. The weather stayed warmish and dryish and windyish, so was fairly pleasant.

The journey takes about an hour or so down the motorway. We were given sheets of pictures of things we had to spot on the way - apparently there is a prize. Spotting the cows and lorry were easy, though the stegosaurus was a little harder. We arrived just as the Waterways Museum was opening up. They gave each cub a quiz sheet once we got in, and we wandered off to view the displays.

The museum was very good, full of lots of interactive things for the kids to have a go on. There were sandbags to pull on, to see how well pulleys work; there were boats to race, to see how hull shape affects the speed; there was a working model of a lock, so the cubs could change the water level in a tank. They really got stuck in.

The quiz sheet was impossible. I knew the answers from general knowledge, but even skim reading the acres of text on the walls, I couldn't find where it told the kids. In the end we gave up, made up a couple of answers and got on with enjoying the museum.

We got to look round a couple of narrow-boats and a Dutch dredger, complete with huge metal buckets on a conveyor-belt. I love the traditional art-work found on narrow-boats. I love the colours or the 'roses and castles' designs.

Upstairs we had lunch, next to the dolls from the children's TV series Rosie and Jim. I think they were the original ones, but I could be wrong. They certainly looked like the real article. Anyway, it was lost on the cubs, who were all too young to remember it from at least 20 years ago.

Instead the cubs found some dressing-up clothes and made themselves up as Victorian boat-workers. Mel looked rather fetching in a cap and waistcoat. Some of the other cubs looked rather fetching in bonnets and pinnies. Who am I to comment?

Outside there was a rope-making machine. The kids could make rope (just like we saw done at the Touw Museum in Oudewater). They twisted it all up, tied it off and made it into skipping ropes, which the kids could take home. I think each cub got one in the end.

Last thing on our list was a trip on the Queen Boudica, for about 45 minutes. It was nice to watch the water slide past and listen to the history of the area told by the Skipper. A lot of the dock-land is being refurbished, but it was easy to imagine how it used to be.

The boat itself had quite a history, dating back to 1936. It was actually one of the craft used during the evacuation of Dunkirk. I sat imagining the decks full of tired and wounded soldiers, glad to be going home alive. It was quite moving, actually.

The boat turned round to make the return journey. A team of rowers in one of those racing skulls came round the corner. We thought they would stop and wait at a safe distance, but no, they just stopped rowing and drifted up behind the Queen Boudica close enough to bump into her stern. This, in itself, was not all that bright, but when the Captain put the engines on to move forward, the closest members of the team were drenched in frothy spray! The cubs on the back rail thought it was hilarious.

Back on dry land, we were given an hour to do what we liked. I had some much-needed coffee before we looked round the gift shop. After that we went outside. Next to the car-park there is a huge Ferris wheel, giving views over Gloucester. We still had 20 minutes, so we payed up and climbed aboard. It was fabulous. We could see for miles, over Gloucester and over the surrounding hills. We could see Gloucester Cathedral and look down on the docks. We could also see all the other cubs getting into the miniature minibus far below us.

Actually we were only about a minute late when we raced up to the bus. We didn't tell them where we had been... it's our secret.

1 comment:

  1. What a fantastic trip! It is interesting to me, who has never traveled far from Texas, Colorado, California, and Utah, to see how different things look over there, the way people dress, the look of the buildings, etc. It is fascinating to me!


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