The forecast for today looked pretty miserable so we decided to complete one of our indoor dates. The forecast was wrong, it was a beautiful day, but we enjoyed our visit to the Museum of English Rural Life in Reading and the Spring like weather meant we could enjoy the museum garden too.
The Museum is housed in an old red brick house, inside the lobby area is bright and airy, with a reception desk, cafe area and museum shop.
The exhibits in the museum start with an animated slideshow of a woodland through the seasons, complete with owls, hedgehogs, a deer darting through the trees, snow, sunshine and driving rain.
That’s the start of looking at the work undertaken and the changes that happen during the rural year.
The Museum is full of interesting examples of things used by rural people through history, with modern touches like interactive sheep farming games, video screens set into the wall showing rural craftspeople at work and other ephemera of rural life.
I loved this wicker horse pulling a cart.
One of my favourite items was this chair, made from a hollowed out elm tree.
Throughout the Museum there is lots to pique your interest, including a little book on display with recipes to treat animal illnesses including one that seems to require Dragon’s blood! Another for treating a cold in horses included strong beer, I wonder what the effects were?
We enjoyed seeing the information on rural crafts and the films of people working, it’s interesting to see how things are made. I’d never considered before how the curve on a waking stick was made.
Upstairs includes a gallery of ladybird books and we enjoyed reminiscing about childhood books.
Along the length of the gallery area is a wagon walk, with wagons used for different purposes all around the country. Some of them are very beautifully painted, the bright colours must have looked lovely bouncing along country lanes.
In another room, there was a display of objects on the theme of “wintertide” put together by students from across the University’s collections. Information was available to read about the exhibits via a website which added greater understanding to what we were seeing. We were a little concerned by these somewhat macabre Victorian Christmas cards. Imagine receiving these as a festive greeting!
We enjoyed our visit to the Museum although when we discussed it later we thought that some of the objects would have benefited from more explanation as we came away none the wiser as to what they were used for- there was a huge spade like implement on the wall, what it was remains a mystery! Perhaps an online guide similar to the one in the wintertime exhibit would work well.
For our M date I considered a range of Museums, mini golf, music concert, or Mexican food, but I think the Museum idea worked well.
What would you do for an M date?