First we visited Colchester Castle and there was plenty to get the boys involved. To begin we took the opportunity to try on some helmets and look at medieval style clothing.
There’s also a really great section with big play bricks for the kids to build with. They have a pull out arch to build around, so that when you push it back in (hopefully) your arch with stand by itself. Noah and Tommy ignored this though and we just ended up with a demolished wall, but hey, perhaps they were invaded.
Upstairs they have a Celtic section which has a lovely set up for kids to explore. In what looks like a third of a hut there was more clothing to try on, as well as replicas of commonly used items for the era. The boys had great fun blowing into the horns (actually used as cups) making lots of noise and running away from me when I tried to subdue them.
Noah took a lot of interest in the displays, Tommy was more interested in his new-found freedom and completely made me regret letting him out of the buggy in the first place. They had quite a few things out to touch, use and smell which made it very exciting for Noah and admittedly did capture Tommy’s interest briefly.
By far the boys favourite part was the chariot (and this is where the squabbles began), with a chance to compete in a computerised race. We spent quite some time on this, luckily no one else was waiting but I did have to coax them off with more things to try on, which led to further squabbles.
And just like at home these two developed a worrying obsession with the toilet, it can’t just be my kids. The centuries old toilet is now covered over so you don’t fall down the hole in the floor, but there’s a nice sign to explain what it is and how it was reserved for special people. They probably spent more time swooning over that than they did the chariot.
Finally before leaving to play in the park on the grounds, which is absolutely amazing by the way, we took a tour of the prison (I probably should have left them there). They have projectors and audio playing in the cells to make it look like there are prisoners within, the boys were fascinated by this, although Noah did later tell me that it was spooky. The Castle was a little busy today with a school trip but we will definitely be going back soon to do a tour of the roof and the vaults when it’s quieter.
After an ice cream and play on the swings and slides we moved onto Hollytrees Museum which is still on the grounds. I wasn’t sure the boys would enjoy this one as much as it’s quite small and it’s been years since I visited it myself. But honestly it was brilliant, and much better for both their ages. On each floor there’s different exhibits and the first one to take the boys fancy was the domestic life one, yes I’m training them well. There were shopping baskets that had food puzzles in to sort, and a play kitchen nestled amongst different domestic equipment through the ages. The boys dressed up in some aprons that were amongst many old-fashioned clothing and practised their culinary and cleaning skills.
At the top of the museum is a room dedicated to toys through the ages and tells you about nursery rhymes linked to Colchester, but what was really nice about this one was a corner with toys for the kids to play with. The boys spent ages in here playing and going through a little tunnel in the wall, it was a hard job to get them out. The best part about this museum as well is it’s free. Having said that though the castle is reasonably priced and still well worth a visit.