Written by Amy Pitham and Jason Oulds - Year 7 Student Reporters
On Friday the 6th of May, students from Year 7 got to go to the Roald Dahl Museum (in Great Missenden Buckinghamshire). It was such a nice Friday with lots of sunshine and cool breezes of fresh air.
Just before 7:30am, we were all inside the school Reception waiting for the journey ahead. You could sense the excitement around all of us. It was full of laughter and loud voices.
7:40am – After the register was finished, we all walked to the school gate waiting for the coach. It was a beautiful double-decker Thandi coach. You would easily know which part of the bus most of us wanted to sit – obviously it was the upper deck!
More than two hours later (which felt like forever), we arrived at the stunning village of Great Missenden. It looked like a chocolate box hidden behind some beech woods. There was lots of green grass around the village. We started talking about why Roald Dahl spent the rest of his life in this Great Missenden village. Later on we learnt that Roald Dahl moved to the village in 1954 and lived here till his death in 1990 and that most of his much-loved books were set around the Great Missenden village.
As there were 60 of us, we were divided into morning and afternoon groups. The morning group started with the workshop run by the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre staff whilst the afternoon group embarked on the self-guided tour around the village trail.
THE MUSEUM WORKSHOP
We were led into Miss Honey's Classroom and Helen from the Museum talked to us about Roald Dahl’s life.
Do you know that:
- Roald Dahl’s parents were Norwegian and when he was a child, he spoke Norwegian at home with his parents and three sisters?
- His teachers didn't think he was very good at writing when he was at school, but Roald Dahl excelled at sport?
By the side of his armchair you could see a big ball made from old tin foil which came off chocolate bars that he ate as a kid - he must have loved chocolate a lot J. We were told that it was this ball that inspired Roald Dahl to write the book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Then Helen showed us the yellow American pencils that Roald Dahl used to write his amazing books. The pencils were Dixon Ticonderoga. Wow!
We also had time to spend in the two very nice galleries: Boy and Solo. In the Boy gallery we learnt more facts about Roald Dahl's childhood, his love of chocolate and his schoolboy mischiefs. You could find the mouse in the gobstopper jar and the giant doors looked and smelled like chocolate. We were told Roald Dahl liked chocolate and his boarding school was close to the chocolate factory and they used to send in chocolate for pupils to taste. Roald Dahl sent letters to his mum saying he missed her very very much. We could see a display of one of his letters to his Mum. How amazing!
In the Solo gallery you could see the real Roald Dahl's Writing Hut and marvel at his collection of quirky stuffs . There was a Gladiator cockpit where you could find out about his RAF experiences.
Do you know that:
- Roald Dahl was about 6’6″ tall (200 cm).
- He wrote everyday from 10 am to 12 noon and then from 4 pm to 6pm?
- He often based his characters on people he had met in real life. For example, the grandmother in The Witches was inspired by his own mother, Sofie.
THE VILLAGE TRAIL
We started walking around the village with a visit to the Great Missenden Library where Matilda (of course from the book Matilda) often visited while her mum went to Aylesbury to play bingo. It was a small library but very well-looked after and still open to the public.
We stopped over the Post Office and learnt some facts that linked to Roald Dahl’s life: he used to receive around 4000 letters a week from the postmen.
We walked by the Red Pump garage, the Crown House (in the book BFG) on our way to the Church of St Peter and St Paul. It was a very nice walk with some hilly roads leading to the Church. It was on these roads that Roald Dahl used to walk by when he was alive. We then learnt that the Church was dated back in the 12th century! Wow!
After a short stay in the Church, we went to see Roald Dahl’s grave. You could see a big tree with wooden benches around the tree. At first we were all confused, but then we saw it had the names of his children and grandchildren, we understood the message. As we walked up the hill you could hear the sound of the birds tweeting and the cars ran past on the busy road. We did have a try stepping on the BFG. It was really cool!
Do you know that:
- Roald Dahl’s birthday, 13th September, is celebrated every year in public libraries and schools as Roald Dahl Day?
- In 1971, a real Willy Wonka wrote to Roald Dahl. He was a postman.
This year is a special year for his family because it is his 100th birthday as he was born on 13th September 1916. He died on the 23rd November 1990 at the age of 74. All his books were published and selling well. He must have lived a very good life.
2:30 pm we all headed back to the coach feeling tired but extremely happy. Well, we thought we were going to the coach. We saw a funfair and we were allowed to go to the park and got to play for 10 minutes and leave on a super high note. The zip line was popular as everyone was queuing up to go and have a go but many also tried going on one of the small rocking motorbikes and got down the thin slide. There was entertainment everywhere which included a massive four-person swing.
But alas, every good thing must come to an end and soon we were heading back home.
A smile… a joke… a trip: the best things in life all in one place.