My children have always had a fascination with trains ever since they were little. Living close to the Nene Valley Railway we could hear the toot of the engines as it pulled up to the station daily. Although the boys love trains, travelling on them is somewhat of a rarity. A few years ago we took the train to Stamford with aunties, uncles, and cousins and we repeated that a couple of years later with Mark as a family. But this was the last time we had travelled via train, that is until we were invited to ride with Greater Anglia on their #LetTheAdventureBegin campaign.
The adventure starts the minute you board a Greater Anglia train with the space to move around, comfortable seats and no sitting in queues of traffic, travelling by trains allows you to sit back and enjoy the adventure.
The Campaign is aimed at boosting tourism in the East Anglia region and to highlight days out families can have this summer. We were invited to the Museum of East Anglian Life a place that up until then we had never heard off. The Museum is located in Stowmarket (another place we had never been too) and was easily reached by train.
Greater Anglia are offering child return tickets for £2 between any two train stations on the network. There are also cheaper advance and group deals available too.
Greater Anglia Trains
After a little bit of hassle trying to get through the ticket barriers at Peterborough Train Station (no fault of Greater Anglia Trains, more a misunderstanding with our travel pass) we went to platform 6 to await our train. We arrived early to make sure we would get through the ticket barrier and find our platform/train information quickly. Our train pulled up slightly early and we boarded easy enough. The boys were so excited they could hardly contain themselves!
The train journey from Peterborough to Stowmarket took around an hour and a half which meant the boys could really experience a train journey. Stamford to Peterborough was only 20 minutes so this was to be their longest train journey. Lots of I Spy games were played to help pass the time! The train itself was clean and despite what I would have thought was the rush hour it wasn’t busy and there was plenty of seating. My only complaint (not that it was the Greater Anglia’s problem) was that the table seating is only for 4. Meaning we had to squeeze into fit us all around. Not so much of an issue but I figure it is worth a mention.
Museum of East Anglia Life
We were given the directions to the museum before we arrived into Stowmarket and once we were there they were easy to follow. The Museum is also attached to the local Tourist Information Centre so it is handy to anyone staying in the local area as there is lots of information about the area in there. Also worth noting the Museum is not in the classic style of 1 building containing all the information, artefacts and what not. It is a large 75-acre plot of land which includes buildings, a large estate house, animals, windmill and walk trails.
The Museum is all about the lives of those living in East Anglia through the times. As you enter the Museum via the Tourist Information centre you see a notice board. Any events/information is displayed for every to see and it is worth a quick read to see if anything was happening.
We were also given a map so we can easily find our way through the exhibits along with a Trail for the kids to complete (which costs 1). We were each given a sticker so we could leave and come back as much as we want for the day. The Museum is located opposite a supermarket so you can nip across to buy picnic food if you didn’t want to eat at the onsite Cafe within the grounds of the Museum.
It is worth noting I took plenty of photos during our visit and would love to share them all, but it is nothing compared to seeing it up close!
Things to do for children
There are plenty of hands-on activities for the children to do during most exhibits. Here is just a small selection of the hands-on activities that are available.
Abbots Hall is a lovely large estate home. Each room showcases a different exhibition which explores a different notion of home and belonging in East Anglia. On the top floor are a lovely library and reference area. This was where we met a lovely lady (who I have forgotten her name! so sorry!) who spoke to the boys and told them all about the dogs who lived there. Mainly a pair of dogs called “Sing and Song” who are the feature of a trail aimed at children. The trail is made up of 6 stuffed dogs who resemble Sing and Song and hidden around the house in the exhibitions. It is to encourage children to look at the exhibits a little more closely. We couldn’t find this info anywhere so it is definetly worth keeping an eye out on the dogs hiding.
Life in East Anglia
I loved the exhibitions which showed a family home. I have always been intrigued to what the set ups were like and what they had. They didn’t just have the homes either, they had shop set ups, Pharmacy, Haberdashery and even a school!
There is also an array of machinery and workshops too!
We were at the Museum for around 4.5/5 hours and there was still so much we didn’t see. It is definitely worth a visit and a great way to spend a few hours learning about the lives of those who lived in the area.