Scribblings of difference

We visit Tring Museum quite a lot.  It’s hard to answer the welcoming ‘have you been here before?’ in a neutral tone.  Oh yes, we’ve been here before and we have a very set routine.

First phase – visit the gift shop.  Unfortunately Ellen is very keen on the display of plastic animals that they sell there and today she bought the white tiger.

‘Oh you must have quite a collection of these at home’ says the sales assistant, presumably recognising us from our previous excursions.

‘We’ve got elephant, orange tiger, lion, rhino, giraffe, zebra and hippo…’ chants Ellen.

‘We must get a few more in then and stock up’ smiles the sales assitant.

‘Please don’t’ I reply, thinking of the groaning shelves back at home.

Second phase.  A very slow and detailed walk around the galleries, with Ellen pointing out all the creatures of interest to her new purchase, in this case, white tiger.

But today I’m going to disrupt this routine and throw a curve ball into Ellen’s familiar pattern.  In RDI speak this is called ‘same but different’.  We’re doing the same thing that we normally do, but changing it ever so slightly.  The aim is to slowly build Ellen’s resilliance and help her cope more easily with the inevitable fluctuations of daily living.

So, ‘Let’s draw our favourite animal’ I say.

‘I don’t think so’ replies Ellen in a sing-song voice, deep in conversation with her white tiger about his friend orange tiger.

Undeterred I set up the stools by the tigers, get out the paper and pencils and I wait.  This is the beauty of RDI.  I have learned that simply waiting is a powerful tool.  After only a few seconds and without any further argument, Ellen comes and sits down.  After a little bit of time positioning white tiger, Ellen gets to work drawing the orange tiger.  I am instructed to draw the Jaguar, which I can only half see due to the glass partitioning.  It is the experience not the end result, I chant internally, flushing when passing visitors curiously peer over my shoulder to look and then veer away as if physically repelled by my amateurish scribblings.IMG_5226[1]

This is Ellen’s drawing (I’m afraid ‘Jaguar with partition’ is not on display at this moment in time).



I know I’m biased, but I love it.


Yes it is possible to spend 3 hours in Tring!

Today Ellen and I took the bus into Tring.  We caught the 11.46 am bus (which came and left 5 minutes early, unlucky for anyone not at the bus stop) and arrived just after mid-day, due in large part to the bus driver’s ill-concealed ambitions to be a racing driver.

The main reason for our trip to Tring was to visit Tring Natural History Museum.  http://www.nhm.ac.uk/tring/index.html .  For those of you who don’t know it, this is a fantastic – free to enter – little museum containing Lionel Rothchild’s personal collection.  Ellen loves animals and it doesn’t seem to matter whether they’re alive or dead – at Tring Museum they’re all dead (stuffed), the bonus of that is that they don’t move and they’re really close to the glass so you can get a good look at them!

Outside Tring Natural History Museum

Outside Tring Natural History Museum

First we made the obligatory stop at the gift shop to find the toy who wanted to accompany us around the museum.  Today it was a whale, who not only looked at all the exhibits with us, but also helped to fill out our gallery trail questionnaire – The ABC trail which meant we had to find all the letters of the alphabet in the galleries.  The alphabet contained the weird and the wonderful including ‘pacarana’ (a rodent) and ‘hellbender’ (a giant salamander).  Ellen has an incredible memory for animal names and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if she starts talking about gerenuks and thylacines, I just hope she doesn’t spot any of the latter out of the kitchen window!  There was a pigeon called a ‘topknot’ pigeon whom Ellen was particularly taken with as he had a topknot like the Fimbles, although disappointingly no stripes.  She also loved looking in the cabinets at all the disgustingly creepy spiders, cockroaches, beetles and scorpions and indulged in her every present love of massive crabs.  Fun all round.

The Gallery Trail Questionnaire

The Gallery Trail Questionnaire

Then it was lunch time and we eschewed the finer eateries of Tring and made our way to Ocean Fish and Chips right in the town centre.  Perfect food for Ellen, sausage and chips plus we were the only ones ‘dining in’.  While we were there, a woman intriguingly came in just for a takeaway portion of mushy peas….another ordered her cod bites and chips and then proceeded to make a phone call loudly telling the person she was talking to how many pills she had left to take (for what?!).  If I ever do a JK Rowling and decide to sit somewhere public to write, Ocean Fish and Chips would seem to be the place.

By this time Tring Library was finally open.  On a Wednesday, it’s opening times are 2-6 pm so we trekked up there and started looking through the books.  We managed to kill another half an hour flicking through some books, before a trip to Costa and back to the bus stop for the 3.15 bus back home.  Amazingly we had managed to spend over three hours in Tring – a feat I would previously have thought impossible!