Our #railadventure to the museum of East Anglian life

Wednesday, 3 January 2018
Days Out

A boy looks out from the train

By Briony Stebbings

You may remember during the Easter Holidays Greater Anglia launched their #RailAdventure campaign and we headed out for a great Adventure to Somerleyton Hall. Well to kick off the Half Term we’ve been on another #RailAdventure, this time we went to Stowmarket and The Museum of East Anglian Life.

We are lucky enough to be situated close to two rail stations, Diss and Wymondham. For our last #RailAdventure we travelled from Wymondham but this time we headed out from Diss.

Diss Station has a far bigger car park than Wymondham, right next to the Station. Which handy when travelling with kids, but because the car parking facilities are better it is a bit more expensive. One thing I noticed this weekend was there was free water for everyone, which was very welcome due to the heat. I also thought it was quite a nice personal touch. Just a little something that truly made a difference to us.

Now Diss to Stowmarket is only a 12 minute rail journey. It was nice for us to be so close, though I think L was disappointing, he would have liked to have been on the train for longer. Everything was on time and everyone we met was friendly and helpful.

For L the train journey is definitely as much a part of the day out as the actual destination. Never have we been able to leave somewhere as easily or with such little fuss. Us telling him it’s time to catch the train is all he needs to hear, all begging for toys/ice cream/treats forgotten. For that alone travelling by train is a winner.

As for The Museum of East Anglian Life, well I’m embarrassed to say I’d never even heard of it. It’s so close to us and filled with all L’s favourite things, so I don’t know how it had passed us by all these years.

It is literally a ten minute walk from the train station to the museum and so straight forward to find. I don’t know Stowmarket very well, but it seemed to be incredibly central. Right next to all the shops. It is so easy to get to if you are travelling by rail.

The place is huge. There is so much to see and do. As soon as you step foot through the gates a sense of peace and calm envelopes you and it wasn’t until we left that I remembered what a built up area we were in. Because once you are through those gates you are in the countryside. Acres upon acres of land. A heritage farm with lots of animals and so many interesting buildings and museum displays to see.

There is no way I can do the museum justice. There is so much to see and do I can’t fit it into one blog post.

We started by looking around the Abbot’s Hall and Museum. L enjoyed in the displays but he was more interested in following the Sing Song trail and trying to find the hidden Pekingese Dogs. He really enjoyed hunting them down.

Then it was time to explore some of the grounds, checking out the walled gardens, large pond and meadows. We popped into a few of the different barns and structures to see all of the old farm equipment, L loved that.

We all loved that it was so family friendly, with plenty of bathroom facilities dotted about but more importantly so many points he could stop and play or dress up. It was after a particularly vigorous building play session we persuaded him to stop for lunch.

We settled at the picnic spot by the kids play area to enjoy our picnic, but we could have easily gone to the cafe which looked lovely and had a fabulous selection of outdoor toys to play with.

After lunch there was time for a bit more playing. Even more tractors, engines and displays to see. We checked out some of the only buildings. Then it was time to go and visit the animals. L loved the lambs and we had to stand and watch one of the pigs for a very long time. I thought the rabbits were particularly cute.

We still had barely touched the surface of what was on offer at The Museum of East Anglian Life.

We skipped the River Nature Trail entirely, L was starting to flag and it was too hot to carry him. So we looked at the Water Pump, checked out the Victorian Kitchen and Privy, explored Alton Watermill and had a quick look in the Tin Chapel.

Back towards the entrance of this amazing place were several displays L and I skimmed through some. He had found a little shop all set up to play with, so we had to that, but it meant that husb got to have a better look at a few things. But before we got to finish up all the displays it really was time for us to go.

L of course, did what he does best, and was poorly for our visit. Perfectly happy in himself but with a bit of a poorly tummy, so we were glad there were plenty of toilets scattered about. There are 75 acres to explore, it would have been a nightmare if they were all in one place! Between that and the heat we cut our day a bit shorter than we would have done otherwise, when I say short we were there for 3 1/2 hours. We could have spent all day there, honestly. There is just so much to do.

This #RailAdventure was just as exciting as our last one. We will definitely be travelling by rail more, it is a lovely way to make a day out even more fun. We will also be returning to The Museum of East Anglian Life. There’s more I want to explore!

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