Cara McKee, a writer and mum-of-three living in Largs, is reminiscing about her recent family travels…
his summer we went for a family holiday in Northern Ireland so that Granny could go see the place where her Granny lived when she was wee. There was so much to see and do that we kept really busy the entire time – and got fabulous weather too. During our week we clambered across the rocks at the Giant’s Causeway, held tight crossing the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, the grown-ups spotted scenes from Game of Thrones all over the place, but I think our favourite visit was W5 in the Odyssey Pavilion at the Titanic Quarter of Belfast.
You could easily spend an entire, exciting day at W5. There are so many educational – yet fun – activities to
do with a science or engineering focus; an outer-space themed soft play area (which they call a soft combat zone) for under 11s; an awesome climbing maze –great forworking off excess energy – plus (extra bonus) they haveCosta coffee stands to keep the grown-ups topped up. We went with four kids and the grandparents and I suspect GrandBob (an engineer) had the most fun, although it was a close thing.
We worked together on experiments, building stuff, learning about aerodynamics and trying to fly planes.GrandBob has been to a few science centres in his time but this was absolutely his favourite for all thestuff on aerodynamics and modern building materials.The shop had a great selection of Lego, Lottie dolls and stationery memorabilia, all at fairly reasonable prices. We bought Lego and took it with us to Pizza Hut next door. There is a cafe at W5 but we fanciedthe pizza buffet.
Afterwards we strolled to HMS Caroline passing Titanic Belfast, the world’s largest Titanic visitor experience and the Thompson Dry Dock – whichaccommodated the RMS Titanic during her fittingout.
Navy museum HMS Caroline itself is firmly dockedand has a fascinating audio guide which really brings to life the story of the men and boys who were on the ship during WWI’s Battle of Jutland. You can nosy about in cabins, see what they’d eat, where they’d wash, and what they’d wear (the girls had the most fun dressing up), practise your Morse code, and (the boys’ favourite bit) have a go at steering the ship in a simulator.
There’s a film about the battleand we learned that over 8,500 men and boys died that night. It was a deeply affecting watch which left me crying and unable to answer Miss 7 who wondered why we have wars anyway. There was a diary entry from a 17-year-old boy on the ship who wrote of the honour of not coming home at all if they didn’t come back with glory. If you’re ever trying to get across the message of the horror and futility of war and fighting to children – this is the place to go!
We managed to get through our break with no other drama until the last day when our car died!My husband tried to fix it but made a mistake andmanaged to break our host’s car battery instead (thank goodness it wasn’t
worse!). We had to get towed back home (thanks to the grandparents) and now we’ve got a new car – because who needs money anyway?