Wednesdays with Mr. H

There's a tradition in the French Lycée system to not have classes (or homework) on Wednesday afternoons. That time is dedicated to les ateliers - sports or other activities and school clubs.

It was a definitely something that took a while for me to remember (except that first week when I didn't know that I had to pick him up after lunch and showed up at the regular time to learn that they'd just popped him into an atelier anyway!). As a result, for the last year and a bit Mr. H has always participated in the school-offered ateliers so that pick up times are the same for me most days - it just makes scheduling easier.

The entrance to the Natural History Museum, aka "the dinosaur museum"

The entrance to the Natural History Museum, aka "the dinosaur museum"

After doing sports last year and trying out patisserie last term, we decided to try shaking things up a bit so this term Wednesday afternoons are dedicated Mr. H and Mommy time. I originally thought we'd do our own version of patisserie at home and expand the cooking repertoire that we've been doing together but yesterday Mr. H had other ideas and wanted to "go to the dinosaur museum". Who was I to argue?

A ferocious sabretooth cat - look at those fangs!

A ferocious sabretooth cat - look at those fangs!

Having only ever been to the Natural History Museum on a weekend, or as a parent accompanying a field trip, it was unusual to be there mid-afternoon and mid-week. No queues! No crush of strollers and tourists! That's not to say that weren't any, but there wasn't the same volume, which was refreshing.

Getting ready to see the T-Rex!

Getting ready to see the T-Rex!

The dinosaurs exhibit is well set-up, winding you through the dinosaur hall and the different dinosaur periods while alternating between displays of full skeletons and fossil samples (or recreations that you can touch). There's a catwalk too that takes you over the exhibit initially as well, so that you can more fully appreciate the full scale of some of the bones. And the animatronic T-Rex is his dark enclave is always a treat.

This animatronic T-Rex is a highlight of the exhibit, except for maybe the smallest children

This animatronic T-Rex is a highlight of the exhibit, except for maybe the smallest children

It was also really neat (for me at least) to see how much Mr. H remembered from the unit on dinosaurs they did with his class last year. We talked about herbivores, carnivores and omnivores and he told me his theory on how the dinosaurs became extinct (it involved meteors hitting the earth and subsequent explosions which caused an ice age that killed the plants. Then when the plant-eaters didn't have anything to eat, they died and that meant there was nothing for the meat-eaters to eat so they died too).

Lots of big mammals on display!

Lots of big mammals on display!

Following on from the dinosaur exhibit we checked out the large mammals room. There's always so much to see that you really have to plan your visit in advance as it's really easy to get distracted while wandering around. Next time I want to check out the Room of Hidden Treasures as a one of the mums at school calls it. Apparently there is a room that is good for about a 90min to two hour visit - great for kids! - and it features a rotating selection of some of the weird and wonderful exhibits that the museum holds but doesn't have on a permanent display anywhere. Anything from pages from an early book to shrunken heads, you never know what you're going to find there.

Besides the wonderful exhibits, the architecture inside is also breathtaking!

Besides the wonderful exhibits, the architecture inside is also breathtaking!

Afterwards we were pretty hungry so we popped into a family-friendly Italian place for dinner. Mr. H must have been starving because not only did he order a babyccino for himself and eat all of his spaghetti and meatballs, but he at most of the calamari that he insisted we get too, and then still had room for ice cream for dessert! For such a skinny kid, I'm not sure where he put it all.

Twirling spaghetti requires serious concentration

Twirling spaghetti requires serious concentration

Spaghetti success - mostly!

Spaghetti success - mostly!

With all the stuff there is to see and do in London, I'm not sure how much cooking or baking will actually get done on Wednesday afternoons but I'm looking forward to more adventures with Mr. H.