Friday 21 August 2015

At-Bristol Science Centre Review and Shaun in the City Harbourside

It has to be said Bristol is my favourite city in the UK and At-Bristol Science Centre, the science museum, is one of its diamonds in the crown.

It's perfect whatever the weather and consists of two floors of interactive education that both adults and children love. In fact there were adult visitors  there who didn't even have kids with them.

The Planetarium is one of its many best bits. It's housed in a chrome plated dome and is the first 3D digital Planetarium in the UK. Not to be missed. Aaron came out of the session a Qualified Space ExplorerYou cannot use a camera at all in the Planetarium so I cannot share any pictures with you, other than to tell you that it is shaped as a globe (as you see pictured above). You get to pretend to open it up, so as to see the night sky; it's just magical and like the museum itself, VERY interactive. What they say:
After extensive work to create our new, immersive Planetarium featuring 360° digital 3D, 4K Ultra High Definition and incredible 7.1 surround sound! Using this system you can have an astronaut's eye-view of Earth, peer inside a glowing nebula, and even fly through the rings of Saturn!
Actually it goes on to say the following, which means we didn't even see it (as amazing as it WAS) in all its glory:
*Unfortunately Active 3D technology is unsuitable for under 6’s due to health restrictions
You can see from the blue sky here and above that it was GLORIOUS weather the day we went, which means we didn't queue for any of the activities. With this Summer being very on and off, I think people were out enjoying water and beach activities. When you get a few days of rain it encourages you to make hay when the sun does shine.

Even when sunny it's worth sneaking in to At-Bristol for half a day as you can spend the other half in the sunshine as we did, gloriously experiencing the beautiful day from the upstairs of an open top bus.

Plus even if water is your thing, there's plenty of paddling space and water features aplenty just outside At-Bristol right by the above Planetarium. Also, At-Bristol is right on the Harbourside. A very picturesque location that makes you feel like you could be anywhere in Europe. I've included some Harbourside footage in my youtube video.

If Shaun in the City is your thing there are several near At-Bristol. 

You can see a snazzy video of the Bristol Shaun The Sheeps' multiple installation here

The easiest way by far to track your progress and locate the sheep though is to download the app. 

The one you see pictured here is Justice Lamb, designed by Mike Ogden, which I spotted in Queen Square. I'd popped there to collect my Press Pack as we were guests of Destination Bristol for our day out. I didn't know at the time though that there are 2 at Queen Sq - ooops!
This is Beach Boy, designed by Mike Ogden again, and is located on the Cascade Steps, Harbourside. Even nearer to At-Bristol though is the Life Aquatic Shaun the Sheep, which is right outside Bristol Aquarium, and designed by Peskimo.

There are 9 trails in total. Firstly Sheep Drive, then Downs trail, then Brunel Trail, Heritage Trail, Farmyard Flock, Harbourside Trail, Southbank Trail, Old City Trail and Temple Trail. The Harbourside Trail is perfect to combine with time at At-Bristol, is 5km long, estimated at a 2 hr walk and consists of seeing 12 Shaun The Sheep in all.

Get the official Shaun in the City App for up to date and easy trail navigation. Get souvenirs  from the Shaun in the City shop at The Mall at Cribbs Causeway. Driving or busing to Cribbs Causeway will find you another THREE sheep :-)

Aaron stayed with Daddy whilst I went to Queen Square (hence not being in the above Shaun the Sheep photo) as they were both dumbstruck in awe of the Whales swimming in 70,000 recycled plastic water bottlesI got this overhead view on a craft workshop at At-Bristol with Hillary's Blinds :-) where I made this.

Bristol Post says of the whales:

Two huge whales have made a splash landing in one of Bristol's biggest squares.
Two life-sized model whales will be swimming through an ocean of 70,000 plastic bottles in Bristol's waterfront. It is part of a new art installation built by Cod Steaks, together with Artists Project Earth and funded by Arts Council England. The sculptures, made of Somerset willow, will be surrounded by plastic bottles recycled from the Bristol 10K and Bath half marathon earlier this year. Lead artist and managing director of Cod Steaks, Sue Lipscombe said: "Whales are intelligent, beautiful, charismatic animals and have become symbols of the world's oceans. Our sea of recycled plastic bottles represents the detrimental effect of plastic pollution on the ocean which is something that all of us can act on – today – by reducing our consumption of single use plastics.
Anyway, back to At-Bristol. You can see Aaron's FAVOURITE activity by far by watching our video (apologies it is all filmed on my phone as I recently *sniff* dropped and broke my camera).
We visited those parachutes both morning and afternoon, before and after the open top bus tour.

We visited the Planetarium in the morning - you have to purchase a ticket for the Planetarium and we chose  the showing for Under 6s. It was tailored to Aaron's age so just perfect for him. I think Daddy would have loved to have watched an adult version too as he is knowledgeable and curious regarding all things space!

I'd say Daddy's favourite part of our time there was creating animations with Aaron, which you do upstairs on the first floor. I wish I took more photos of this. There are many tables, each with backdrops, props and cameras. You simply scan the barcode on your wristband to begin. The selection of tables mean you don't queue long, even when it is busy. You also get the opportunity to request that your creation is emailed to you.

As some readers will know, I am pregnant (this week I am now 17 weeks) so my favourite part of the science museum was this:
I should have got IN the photo, silly me. As you can see above, the baby is a doll from 4 to 9 months, which mean there are SIX dolls you can take out and cradle, to show you and baby's siblings, how large or small they are at that stage. I wasn't yet 4 months when we visited :-( There is also an area like a clothed lift that you can stand in; it simulates a womb. So whilst in there, you hear  the "Mummy" above you, like baby does and the womb rocks to simulate the motion of Mummy walking. Mummy then went into labour which gave Aaron a fright, even though it was very brief and tame compared to real life. Daddy had to assure Aaron that when pickle comes, Mummy will be just fine.

TigerLillyQuinn took a great snap whilst there:

A photo posted by Fritha Tigerlilly Quinn (@tigerlillyquinn) on
We actually didn't end up having lunch on the Harbourside and opted to eat packed lunch on the open top bus, saving our appetite for dinner instead. The only trouble is, all of the Harbourside bars and restaurants that are INCREDIBLY family friendly in the afternoon for lunch, are all of a sudden full of adults and alcohol more or less from 6 p.m. onwards, so we wandered away and ended up in Pizza Hut, which although not as hip and happening, was an oasis of calm, along with beautiful air conditioning after such a hot day. Both the food and service were fab. Aaron loved the colouring in/activity book and the unlimited soft drinks were a big hit with Daddy and I combined with the affordable menu. But then we've been fans of Pizza Hut as a family dinner venue for a while - oh yes, it's because I LOVE the unlimited salad bar!

In reality though, where lunch is concerned you don't even need to step outside the door of At-Bristol as the At-Bristol cafe is superb!!! Lots of people hang out in there for ages and there is even a very basic soft play area in its corner, which even kept my adventurous 5 year old Aaron out of mischief for 15 minutes :-)

I spent quite some time playing with this but still couldn't get it. Have you?
Daddy even taught Aaron how to play Chess upstairs:

A real highlight of the upstairs area are the water bubbles, which I didn't photograph but they do feature in my video above. You can move a large ring around in bubbly water and then pull it up to make such a HUGE bubble that it can arc around your whole body if you are talented enough. We saw a teenage girl do it again and again - I was in awe of her skill.

Despite us spending half a day in At-Bristol there is MORE than enough to keep you occupied for a full day, without feeling the need to rush off anywhere else (we just wanted to avail of our wonderful complimentary trip on the open top bus which I will review separately as it deserves a post of its own).

Daddy and Aaron talked to each other from one side of the ground floor to the other by talking through this circle into a large red disc. Even though you get similar things in playgrounds, on a smaller scale, they both loved it and passed some fun time this way.
Going to At-Bristol is the sort of day that is not at all taxing, because not only is your child entertained but you are too. Plus it is in that educational way that leaves you feeling fascinated, like you are all the wiser for having been. You're SPENDING QUALITY time rather than just killing time. Well worth a visit. We've been before and no doubt we'll go again.

When we popped back in, in the evening after the bus tour we really enjoyed putting this body together, literally organs, bones, muscles and skin. So educational and fun. Educational stuff is so perfect to keep their brains active in school holidays. But no matter what he did, sending that foam rocket and parachute up, and seeing it fly down, again and again and again and again was by far his favourite activity.

So much more I could say about At-Bristol but I think I will say bye for now.

We do need to thank Visit Bristol for a superb day out. You can find them on Twitter via @VisitBristol and see lots of fun tweets/pics via the hashtags #VisitBristol and #ShaunInTheCity. Incidentally Bristol this year is European Green Capital and has many many times been voted Best City to Live in the UK, by the Sunday Times and many other publications.

1 comment:

  1. I have never been to Bristol! It looks like a lot of fun though :) glad Aaron enjoyed it too.


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