Friday, 14 September 2012

Observatory Science Fair

Well a week after T went back to school we had a final camp for 2012.
Earlier in the spring we had booked two pitches at the Herstmonceux Observatory Science Fair for us and a family, the Fords, that we camp with most years.

Best weekend ever and this is an incredibly long post about it.
A world record length posting, get a cuppa.

We picked T up from school and headed out East.

The sun was glorious and as the traffic was a bit heavy the journey took a little longer and the roundabouts meant that T needed one of the many vomit bags collected by those friends of ours who took air travel this summer.
We arrived with enough time to erect the tent and the Friday night camp spaghetti was made by Mother F and my girls ate everything.

The sky was going to be clear which meant great star gazing for G,  as far as I was concerned that meant it was likely to be freezing in the night.

All of us went into the Observatory later in the evening and spent until 10 having a go on all the exhibits. Due to the nature of the event it meant red light conditions, non of us had got this organised yet so I am amazed that we didn't break a limb wandering around what is mostly a multi level concrete building.

Can you see this video it's my first one on here?

I think G and T got to look in a telescope I just felt like I walked round with worse vision than usual and then P threw a strop so it was time for bed.

So with the threat of clear skies I prepared as best as I could to keep my little family warm with blankets and hot water bottles and failed miserably.

01:45 G came to bed now with a red light from the gift shop and offered me his warm sleeping bag rather than the blanket affair I had sorted.
02:45 I woke and realised it was only and hour on and it was even colder.
04:29 T woke me up in whispering rage, she had in fact been right, she wanted my sleeping bag and air bed because it was better than the one she had been allocated under protest. I wasn't going to argue and jumped at the chance of her far superior bag which fitted me like a tight dress.
05:15 P woke up saying that she was cold and climbed into my sleeping bag that was now in a complete twist, the feet correct and the hood covering my face and I was no longer on the air bed.

By morning the whole camp was talking about the cold except T who slept later than she has ever done in 5 years and P got over it pretty quickly.

It was like a Jane Austin production.

Welcome to the Science Fair, those who arrived early by car were greeted by the naked preschooler.
I don't think that there could have been more than 50 tents and they were all on the front lawn.
At 7 a java bus came and the air was filled with AROMA of coffee. It was amazing.

Why can't I drink this stuff?

As soon as bladders were emptied the sun was high enough in the sky to make it sweltering and there was still the opportunity to view the moon, which is P's favourite.

Can you see the moon, it's center left in the blue bit?
It's got to be the best picture of the moon ever, surely?

I made a great breakfast and the children played with their lanyards turning them into leads for their toy animals.

Then when events kicked off at 10 up they all went to play.
I zipped the tent and attempted to have a shower in a small bucket.
I felt better afterwards but looked just as crumpled as when I went in.

You can imagine there are all sorts of things to keep young minds entertained.
For adults there is all this too and a machine where you press the button and if you release it on 10 seconds a buzzer goes off. Well, it's a competition about who can get the closest to 10, let me tell you had there been power near the tent we would have walked out with it and played all night.

Some of us weren't tall enough to get the ball to fly above the hoover.

No worries there are other uses.

We headed back to camp with the children, G and Papa F went to hear a talk on Supernova's. I think they struggled to keep up and rewarded themselves with another red light from the gift shop.

Mother F and I found a shady tree and nattered for a while before the family Olympic themed science show in the afternoon that G and T got involved in, racing to put a skeleton jigsaw up on a wall and P sat and cheered whilst eating ice cream and then much more play in the Discovery Park.

Hot dogs for dinner followed by an early night for the children, who were both wrapped up in the warm sleeping bags.
Still took them along time to drop off. They lay there so still and quiet but their eyes were wide from what appeared to be a little hyperactivity still left in the brain.

Mother F and I headed back into the Observatory to experience something. The queues were toooo long for the big telescopes, which look like this during the day.

Along the front balcony the enthusiasts line their smaller telescopes and we asked a gentleman if we could see what he sees.
He is a cross between Patric Moore and David Bellamy.

He gave a us a pair of binoculars to look through as showed us stuff, stars the look like upside down coat hangers, green lasers that travel as far as the eye can see but have to be turned off when planes are traveling over head and through his telescope M81 and M82, 58000 light years away.

But the simplest of all was the Plough.

Have you seen it? people talk about it all the time and you see those sickly scenes in rom coms where the guy shows the love interest the stars and I stick my finger down my throat.

Well not any more. I finally get what all the fuss is about.

This is a photo from Google images.
When some one shows you it and it is there with no other distractions it is beautiful and as clear as a sentence on a piece of paper.
Did you know that the star second in from the left is in fact two stars and they are called Mizar and Alcor.
Great name for pets.

We came out on a high and I wanted a green laser.

That night I made a woolen blanket enclosure that kept G and I toasty and with 2 full hot water bottles we did alright but it may have not been quite as cold.
Did I mention that I forgot to pack nappies and that became an tiny issue at about 5 am.

The smell of coffee wafted through camp Sunday, again the sun was up and it was roasting before we knew it. The ticket also gave us entry to the neighbours garden.

Hey it's a Castle!

With a moat!

and Chestnut trees from the 1700's that remind me of the Friday night twist in my sleeping bag.

Actually T hadn't gotten the Amethyst key charm she had being longing for in the gift shop despite her lovely behaviour so she was struggling not to be a brat and required a long talk about gift shops and "I want" on the nature trail back to camp.
She did eventually come round and leave the swings early and 'help' us make a snack before we all went off to see the Planetarium which was probably the weakest of the exhibits, mainly due to the blurriness of the projections.
It was an inflatable planetarium, think giant black tagine with the same temperature inside.
You can't vacate back through the door when the show is in session it is better to crawl out underneath which is exactly what I did when P announced, I need a wee.

She then found a new friend who she called her robot and didn't let go of his hand and he spoke to her in his robot voice she was smitten.

More play in the park and I got a vac form for the hall in pink.

After lunch I took T back into the center and quickly showed her Dome E where there is a rising observation floor and then we talked to each other on the whispering stations and then she built a rocket.

It was the best time ever.

 Take a bottle.

Stick a nose cone on it and some fin things.

Name it.

Fill it with fuel.

Prepare to launch and pull the lever.

I asked T if she wanted me to photograph or film, film, and it is too long to show but it does shoot out of it's docking station reach a great height and land on the other side of the hedge.
Then I pressed stop.
I wish I hadn't because she returns her safety goggles and makes her way to the exit, sees that her route is blocked turns on her ballet pumps, runs past the lever and jumps clear over the chain.
Complete glee for her and a top 5 memory for me.

We walk back to camp which is close to being all packed up into cars and there is no shade anywhere.
G takes T to the gift shop where an Amethyst key ring is purchased, I take the kitchen gazebo down and photograph P in a nearly empty site.

The girls are asleep before the first round about and luckily when we get home are happy to just have cereals for dinner.

Best weekend ever and now it's all cleaned and upstairs ready to be neatly backed into the roof space I am officially really ready for Autumn.

Promise never to have a long post like that again.


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