Connor had his first nursery trip last week – how is he big enough for trips? Anyway, the venue of choice was Summerlee Museum of Scottish Industrial Life, it used to be called Summerlee Heritage Park when I was wee! The museum was built on the site of the Summerlee Iron Works and you get to explore the old buildings and see the machinery etc that was used back in the day. It has Scotlands only operational heritage tramway so you can hop onto the tram and go to see the old miners row cottages – one of which is now a sweetie shop! You can take a guided tour around the recreated mine and see the dark, cramped spaces the miners had to work in . We didn’t make it that far of course because there is a MASSIVE play park and the sun was splitting the trees, so guess where we spent almost our entire day? Yep, at the play park. To be fair, the weather was gorgeous and there were plenty of little picnic tables dotted around so us Mums were pretty happy to just sit and watch the kids play.
When we first arrived, Connors group took part in a workshop where they were shown how to do the washing – 19th century style, complete with wash board and ringer. The kids loved playing with the big soap bars and the tin water buckets. They got to wash an item of clothing, put it through the ringer and then hang it up to dry on the line. Afterwards, they all settled down for a story in the sunshine; the man who held the workshop (I can’t remember his name!) was so nice, and really took the time to explain everything to the kids and answer any questions they had, no matter how weird or wonderful.
Since it was such a beautiful day we took a little walk; the grounds are lovely, there’s a gorgeous seating area just next to the entrance and large pieces of machinery are dotted about the place. Everywhere you turn theres something interesting to see. So like I said, we found the play park and the boys set up camp there for the next 2.5 hours! I managed to get into the actual museum with Connor for a quick look but only because we took an “accidental” detour on the way back from the toilet!
The museum itself is full of treasures from the 19th century, there are little themed spaces with sports memorabilia, an old cinema set up, a shop complete with products – we even saw a diy enema kit!! Music from that era is playing in the background and it was just lovely to watch the Connors face as I explained to him what things were; some things were so alien to him he couldn’t even guess what they were meant to be!
There are some interactive activities around the museum – building blocks, musical instruments – and they are all linked in some way to the part of the exhibit they are in. There is also a Treasure Hunt app which you can download and use during your visit, we didn’t manage do that this time, but it’s definitely on the list for future visits.
After our quick toilet trip it was back to the play park where we enjoyed our lunch in the sunshine. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned how gorgeous a day it was, have I? We don’t tend to see the sun often in Scotland (although we’ve seen it quite a lot recently) so when we do we make the most of it. There is something for all ages in the park, I’m pretty sure I saw a pirate ship and I heard Connor mention a car, although I didn’t see that myself. The park itself is boxed in by loads of trees and the boys just loved running through them and making dens, they swore they saw a baby rabbit.
Talking about baby animals, there were cygnets next to the Vulcan boat which is moored just down from the play park. The Mummy and Daddy swans were not happy about all the kids running about and did a fair bit of hissing and wing beating. I’ll be honest, swans scare the shit out of me. I got bitten by one when I was little and I’ve never trusted them since.
We finally got the boys out of the play park 20 minutes before the bus was due to leave. So that left just enough time for a tram ride, they had a ball sitting up on the high seats and looking out the windows to wave to all their friends. The tram stop is right at the entrance to the park and I think its £1.50 for an adult and 95p for a child to ride (something like that). It takes you up the side of the museum and round to the old miners cottages. As I mentioned before, one of the cottages has been turned into an old sweetie shop selling all kinds of delicious treats. Connor, of course, chose the biggest blue lollipop he could find and by the time we got home he was part human, part smurf.
Each of the other cottages on the row have been decorated in the style of a different decade – 1920’s, 1940’s, 1960’s etc – I think I got pictures of most of them. I think the only room I missed was the 1910’s and thats because when I walked into the room I had the most horrible feeling and got shivers right up my spine so I had to leave quickly! No idea why, I just got a bad vibe from that room I think.
My favourite room was the 1960’s, if you follow me on Instagram you’ll have seen my post the other day. I just love the wall colour, I also loved the fact that in the kitchen of this wee cottage was a coach built silver cross pram. I’d have absolutely loved to have one of those! The boys were amazed to learn that the music was coming from a record player and that the tv was in a box – who would’ve thought?! Sadly we didn’t have time to go down the mine, which was the one thing I really wanted to do. My Papa (Connors great grampa) used to work down the pits and he really wanted me to take Connor and show him what his Papas job used to be. I’d quite like to see it myself; learning about years gone by (particularly in Scotland) really interests me and I’m hoping I can pass that on to Connor and eventually, Mason.
Before we knew it, it was time to head back to the bus. A quick trip to the gift shop and yet another Hot Wheels car and we were ready for home. We had the best day at Summerlee and will definitely be going back over the summer – I will get down that mine! Best of all, its all completely free! You only have to pay to ride the tram and if you choose to get something from the cafe or gift shop. It’s the perfect family day out regardless of the weather.
Have you been to Summerlee? What did you think?