Visiting the Marvel Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N experience – Excel, London

Ever dreamed of being recruited by S.H.I.E.L.D.?  We visited the Avengers exhibition at The Excel centre in London and tbh its probably the closest you’ll get! Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. (Scientific Training and Tactical Intelligence Operative Network), is an immersive and interactive experience that explores the science behind the Avengers and tests whether or not you yourself have what it takes to be an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D...

We visited with 4 12year old boys and its fair to say they loved it!!!

Located at the back of Londons Excel centre, in its own purpose built building, you travel through various themed rooms until you reach a 4D Interactive game at the end.

Although reviews were mixed we booked tickets for six of us (using a voucher website to receive a slight discount on the ticket prices). You can book a time-slot so waiting time is reduced and the nearby Excel centre has food and toilets.

The props and tech used in this exhibition are really good. The most famous Avengers have their own rooms and interactive games, and the lesser known ones are grouped together with lots of on screen information, costume displays and other interesting titbits!

Amongst other exhibits, you can hold Hulks hand, ride Captain Americas bike or hold his shield, Follow Antmans ants or try and lift Thors hammer! I failed 😦

One of the things I liked best about it was the level of detailed information. As a fan you can read the ‘science’ behind all the characters and their stories as if they were real, studied phenomenons. What to know how the Rainbow Bridge forms? How Wakandas communication devises operate? What each Infinity stone does? How Captain America went from skinny boy to super-soldier? Its all here waiting to be discovered!

The whole thing is immersive and everything presented as it it is real. The team working the event are there as SHIELD operatives and you are kept in this bubble the whole way round. You wont find any mention of comic books or actors names here!

We didn’t queue very long for anything apart from the interactive games in Tony Starks lab (which our 12yo’s loved) and photography is allowed and easy to do as there aren’t crowds as only so many people are let in per time-slot.

After slowly making our way through the exhibition (I’d give yourself at least an hour if you want to enjoy the interactive parts) you then get ushered into a final room, split into teams and all given ipods to play an interactive Avengers game. This is great fun and a really good way to end the experience.

There is also a large gift shop (no cash, card only) and an opportunity have have a souvenir photo done, digitally posing with the Avengers.

Me, my sons and their friends really enjoyed this experience and I’m really glad we went. I would say its best added to doing something else in London if you were coming for a day out as it doesn’t last that long but for any Marvel fan it is a must see!!!

Due to extra demand this experience is now running till the 28th of April. Book your tickets here. Able to be flexible? Find selected Groupon offers here.

What we did in the Summer Holidays…

So the summer holidays are over.

Reuben started back at school last Wednesday and now we are all back in the busy routine of school runs, working days, clubs and play.

I have to say I have genuinely enjoyed the last 6 weeks. Although a struggle at times to manage childcare while working in marketing part-time and running an online vintage shop, the more laid-back vibe and opportunities to do new things together has been wonderful.

I, like many, dont have tons of spare cash to throw around so the summer holidays are always a mix of days out and either free activities or time at home.  So in todays blog I thought I’d share some of the things we got up to big and small… hopefully making memories that will last for years to come.

Bletchley Park

This hidden gem on the outskirts of Milton Keynes is a great place to really experience the lives of the WW2 codebreakers (led by Alan Turing – who you may of seen immortalised in the Benedict Cumberbatch film The Imitation Game). Theres lots of information, exhibits and a replica of the Bombe, one of the first computers as well as an original German Enigma machine.  The grounds and house are lovely with plenty of spots for picnics and fun, plus theres a cafe and restaurant too.  A great historical visit that has something to interest everyone.





The National Museum of Computing

Next to Bletchley Park is the museum of computing and with two computer/gaming crazed 9 years olds we couldnt not visit!  The museum holds all types of computing devices and the boys marvelled at the huge old computers from the 1960s as well as interacting with robots, retro consoles and even some virtual reality. There were lots of passionate helpers on hand to explain things and were very patient with our children helping them program, play and generally interact with the exhibits.



Cinema – Finding Dory

OK, its kinda a no-brainer but the cinema was a great day out for all of us and we made sure to fit in some ice cream afterwards!  Finding Dory was a great film that all our children enjoyed (with the age difference this can be hard) and had a beautiful message.



Roald Dahl Museum

What a delight this place is. Small but perfectly formed, it is located in Buckinghamshire where Dahl lived and shares his childhood, all his wonderful work, insights on his process (he ate 3/4 bars of chocolate a day, wrote during strict working sessions and never cleaned his writing hut) and his ongoing legacy. Theres lots of interactive displays, memorabilia, storytelling and talks and a lovely little tea room if you fancy a slice of cake.  It is great for school aged children as they are already familar with much of his writing and all visitors are given a cute pad and pencil to write down their ideas just as Dahl did.


The Science Museum

I’d not been to the Science Museum since I was a child and I was pleasantly surprised to see it had changed alot since then. Its free to get in, theres lots to see and do and kids eat free in the restaurant when you order and adult meal. However for all the REALLY cool stuff you do have to pay – the IMAX cinema, 4D experiences and flight simulators add up £ wise, but make for a cool techy day out…and if you travel by train you can get 2for1 vouchers which bought the cost down a lot.  Great for inquisitive minds, young and old, and don’t get me started on the amazing gift  shop…




Theme Parks

We are a thrill-seeking family so summer wouldnt be summer without a trip to a theme park. We visited both Alton Towers and Thorpe Park this summer and had a blast!  Look for 2for1 vouchers and online codes to make it more affordable and think about bringing a picnic lunch. We usually purchase the refillable drinks bottles too and refill throughout the day via the Hydration Stations.  Now our 9yr old’s are taller we have a lot more rides to go on so keeping hydrated is important!

thorpe park and alton towers


Swimming

The pool, the garden, who cares?!? If its hot get wet!  Our local pool does lots of kid friendly swim sessions and we bought a bigger paddling pool last year and I was determined we would get good use out of it!  Again quick and easy, but very fun.




Trampoline Park

This was a new experience for us as a family and boy it was fun! Be warned though it is EXHAUSTING!  Our local trampoline park has a ‘Total Wipeout’ machine, dodgeball and basketball areas and lots of high points to jump off of! We will definitely be visiting again.




Frappincino Dates

A simple quick thing to do but it feels special. I love having a Starbucks ‘date’ with my 9 year old and it makes him feel very grown up. He knows its a treat (those drinks are yummy but calorific) and we get some sweet one on one time.



Days at the Seaside

Living in Kent we have quite the pick of the seaside towns. Margate, Whitstable, Broadstairs and Herne Bay are all great to visit and filled with everything you would expect. We walked the pier, played in the amusements (2p machines a speciality), ate chips and swam in the sea. Just perfect.


And of course there were plenty of quieter days at home. This year I made sure our boys didn’t expect to do something everyday and they made use of the many toys and books they have as well as visiting our local play park and spending time with other family members. All in all I think we found a good balance.

Find more photos via my Instagram – follow all the photographic fun and games here.

The Vogue 100 Exhibition – National Portrait Gallery, London

As part of my birthday celebrations myself and my boyfriend had a great day out in London recently and I got to do one of the things I love doing – visiting art galleries.  The Vogue 100 exhibition had been on my ‘to do’ list since it opened in February and I was thrilled to be able to go and see it.  But the question is, is it worth seeing?

Once you enter the exhibition through pillars of different Vogue covers you are faced with this huge image of the late great Lee McQueen and a stark room with a  small selection of the past 100 years most iconic images from which you can then access the different areas grouped by decade.

The layout is quite a strange one as it doesnt run in chronological order so I made my way to the ‘century of magazines’ area first and then worked forward from the 1920’s finally ending in the film area.

I went into to one of the end rooms first  – The ‘Century of Magazines’ room

This room showed a copy of Vogue from every year of the 100 years it has been in publication…including the very first copy (pictured). It is breathtaking to see how a publication can represent its era, carry on through two world wars, touch politics, feminism and the changes to the world that happened during that time but still be a great fashion magazine.

 Another great room was ‘The Planning Room’ 

In this room you entered a darkened space with negatives from all eras presented on top of light boxes and series’ of shoot images being projected on the wall showing how many shots the Vogue team would see before they picked ‘the one’.

  

And then there were the rooms of the different decades…

My highlights

The 1920s/30s –

Aristocracy mixed with silent film stars and glamour girls. Many of the images looked as modern now as they did 100 years ago…


The 1940s – against all the glamour the starkness of these reportage shots from the WW2 really made you realise Vogue was never just a frivolous fashion magazine…

And seeing key fashion illustrations in real life, remembering they had been done at the time and were of the most contemporary fashions.

The 1950’s – this room held some of the most glamorous photos including original by Cecil Beaton and Norman Parkinson…

The 1960s – Probably my favourite era, style wise, I loved the tone of this room with its retro textured wallpaper and full wall shot of David Hockney, his assistant and glamorous model Maudie James in his studio by Cecil Beaton…

 

The 1970’s – a strange mix of glamour, sexist sterotyping and the grungy beginnings of punk rock. Probably my least favourite of all the rooms although this Helmut Newton pic taken the year I was born stood out…

The 1980s – Big, brash and bold was the order of the day in this room…

The 1990’s- a key time in British fashion with film stars and artists suddenly taking up as many shots as the models and the grungy ‘Heroin Chic’ style starting to appear…

The 2000s and onwards – it is quite breathtaking to see so many iconic images in one place – the curation was perfect and you really ‘felt’ each decade and its subtle changes…

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And finally (of course!) the shop

Look at these amazing Biscuiteers biscuits!  The Vogue 100 book was great too but I’ve got to be honest I’m not going to buy it for a ‘special price’ of £35 in the gallery when Amazon have it for £26. The vintage copies of Vogue on sale (from £35) were tempting though… 

I just adored this exhibition and would definitely recommend a trip. It runs until 22nd May 2016 and adult tickets are £17.00 each.  If youve been I’d love to know your thoughts…

National Portrait Gallery

St Martin’s Place
London
WC2H 0HE
020 7306 0055

Opening hours

Daily 10.00 – 18.00
Thursdays and Fridays until 21.00.
Last admission to the exhibition is one hour before the Gallery closes.
Exiting commences ten minutes before the closing time.