Dino Snores at the Natural History Museum - 25th July 2015
On Friday I got to experience one of the coolest things I have ever done and will probably ever do - sleeping underneath a dinosaur skeleton at the Natural History Museum, AKA Dino Snores! Dino Snores is on a couple of times a year (the next one is in August) and is not cheap, but it's totally worth it.
The evening begins with a 3-course meal and complimentary drink.
Over dinner we had fun chatting to other attendees and trying to answer the questions on the quiz sheets.
Dessert was an amazing treacle tart. I forgot to take a picture of the main course, but it was sea bream (I think) and mashed potato.
Before the organised activities started we had half an hour to chill out and take a few pictures.
Here's Dippy the Diplodocus, soon to be re-homed *sniff*
Charles Darwin looked particularly distinguished in the dim light.
Some more Dippy and his excellent tail...
I definitely loved the fact that there were so few of us there, as it meant I could get photos I wouldn't normally be able to get, like this one...
More Dippy. Such a good tail.
Our first activity was learning about the botanics of gin, along with a gin tasting.
We were shown some plant specimens from the museum archives, some of which were over 200 years old. This is juniper, the main ingredient in gin.
Despite being a huge fan of gin and tonic, I'd never actually tried a 'sweet' gin before. Sweet gins are known as 'old tom' gin. If you want to find out why, then you'll have to buy a ticket :)
We'd never seen this for sale anywhere, but apparently you can get it in Waitrose.
The room also featured some gorgeous bird paintings by Aubrey Williams.
Next up was a presentation by one of the scientists who works at the museum. I don't remember his actually job title, but he specialises in form and function, specifically looking at moths and other insects. Can you guess what this is a picture of?
Spoiler: A fly penis.
He also invented this contraption, which he made by messing around with Lego one day. It enables scientists to photograph the fragile insect specimens from every angle without having to touch them.
Finally, we watched a very geeky stand-up comedy set by one of the writers of QI. He told us some really interesting and funny stories about Bletchley Park as well as his failed attempts to talk to non-geeky people. I think all of us could relate. I don't have a photo of him, sadly.
Then were were free to explore the whole museum and make the most of the fact that there were only about 80 of us there, and as a bonus: No children!
First I took Nate to the mammal room, as he said he's never been in before. This was my favourite room as a child because of the life-size blue whale model, which doesn't get any less impressive as you get older.
I remember at age 7 or so feeling sad when I found out the blue whale was a model and not a real whale, but also sad that all the other animals were actually real and were probably killed by Victorian hunters. The mind of a child is a strange thing.
The museum is currently running a coral exhibit, which we got to go in for free. You can see how empty it was.
We got to play with these underwater coral explorer cameras too, which would normally be swarming with children I imagine.
During the free time, there was a harpist playing music (including the Jurassic Park and Game of Thrones theme tunes) dressed as a dinosaur in the main hall.
We sat on the steps with our drinks and listened to her for a while...
Then we wandered up to the higher level to take some more photos.
There were also some drop-in activities including insect tasting and specimen sketching, which were really cool. I may have eaten some kind of ant and a worm thing, which was not pleasant.
Here's Nate taking a picture of me, taking a picture of him, from across the hall.
I also loved the giant sequoia as a child, although now I wish it was still alive in the forest.
Here's a monkey looking down on everyone, probably wondering why we're all keeping him awake.
Here you can see where we slept. We are the black and light blue sleeping bags at the front.
This is right up at the top by the giant sequoia.
Another great thing about the evening was getting to walk around without shoes on.
We ended our night at about 2.30am by seeing the dinosaur exhibit. I hadn't been in for years but I've definitely never seen it like this...
We were the only people there. The only noise was the roaring of the mechanical Velociraptors, which was really creepy.
The shadows from the skeletons were amazing. This is not a Stegosaurus, but a Uojiangosuarus (pronounced wo-wang-o-saur-us).
I particularly love this photo of the Velociraptor skeletons.
The carvings all over the doorways are incredibly beautiful as well. Every set of carvings seems to be completely different. I also got excited by one particularly ornate door handle.
Hello Mr. Tyrannosaurus. When you walk down the ramp alongside him, a recording tells you to "keep moving down the ramp please". It felt so good to stand there for 15 minutes pretending to be chased and taking stupid photos.
Here's the Uojiangosuarus from below.
And some big lizard hands. They look like they are saying "Why? WHY?!"
The last photo before we went to bed.
We slept underneath Dippy's tail.
They do turn the lights off after 3am by the way, it isn't this bright all the time.
I'm not going to pretend it was a brilliant night's sleep, because I stupidly didn't bring a pillow and several foam mats are not an adequate replacement for a mattress, but sleeping isn't really the point of Dino Snores.
In the morning we got coffee, orange juice and a full English breakfast before heading off home and sleeping for 4 more hours.
If you love science and you ever get the chance to go to Dino Snores, you should absolutely do it. It really was a once in a lifetime experience and worth every penny and every minute of uncomfortable sleep.