I drove by my grandad’s old house, simply because I could.
Usually when we go back to my home town of Ipswich it’s just for a couple of hours to visit my parents or, even when we go back for several days, we have plans. There’s normally no time for a trip down memory lane but this occasion was different. I had time between dropping my mum off at the hospital to visit my poorly dad and picking her up again, so I went the long way home.
I’m not sure what I was expecting. The same deep purple window ledges, the name ‘Sorrento’ engraved on a wooden plaque above the front door, colourful prize-winning dahlias peeping over the garden fence.
What I saw was almost unrecognisable. Aside from the structure of the house everything was different. The windows had been replaced, the colour-scheme gone. They’d even taken down the porch on the side of the house.
To be fair, it has been more than 20 years since he died so perhaps some change is inevitable but nothing seemed to be the same anymore – and not just his house.
Old friends have left, their parents moved from houses once as familiar as my own, my high school has been demolished, even my childhood bedroom has been replaced by an en suite (not that I’m bitter, much). With my previously indestructible dad in hospital, I was looking for something familiar to cling on to but it all seemed to have drifted off on the tide of time.
Until we went to Ipswich Museum. (Please excuse the quality of the photos, I only had my phone and wasn’t really thinking about blogging so was just randomly snapping things.)
I dropped my mum at the hospital at 10am (Freya was too young to visit so my mum went up a couple of times in the day and then I went to see him at night while she watched Freya) and drove straight into town with a couple of hours to play with.
Having visited another childhood haunt, Christchurch Mansion, on a previous trip, I had always planned to take Freya to Ipswich Museum but had never found the time. My mum tells me she used to take me to the museum almost every week when I was small and I do have a strong memories, particularly of this fellow who seemed even bigger than I remember.
Yes, he is a wooly mammoth! Or a life-size model, anyway. The species is believed to have lived in the area a long, LONG time ago. Freya was just as in awe as I used to be (ok, as I still was).
Seeing him seemed to set something off inside me. I gleefully roamed the museum, pointing out things I remembered.
Founded in 1846 at a property in Museum Street, its aim was to ‘educate the working classes in natural history’. It was originally run by a committee on behalf of subscribers but, after financial troubles in 1852, it was adopted by the Corporation in 1853. When the original building became too small, it moved to its current location in the High Street, opening in 1881. For a more detailed history visit the Wiki entry here.
It takes you on a “journey through Suffolk’s past from Iron Age to Romans and Saxons” and beyond.
Galleries include Victorian Natural History, the Ogilvie British Bird Gallery, Suffolk Wildlife Gallery, British Mammal Gallery and the Suffolk Geology Gallery.
I’d say the Victorian Gallery, with its exotic animals, was Freya’s favourite. She didn’t like the stuffed birds but we both enjoyed seeing the huge whale skull hanging above our heads, which was frankly mind-blowing, and the fascinating fossils. She spent some time looking at the human skeleton and also seemed to enjoy the treasures from abroad.
For me, it was more about the feeling I was left with. In stormy seas, it felt like an anchor. A very enjoyable anchor too.
It’s free to visit (although we left a donation). For opening times please click here.