Science Camp

‘I pay for science camp, I’ve driven you to science camp, I’m making sandwiches for science camp and I’m going to have to drag you there.’

‘I didn’t ask you to.’

I looked at my older daughter’s stubborn face. We’d just completed the five-hour journey from home. Pulled up at my mum’s house. And this teenager was right – she definitely didn’t ask me to put her name down for science camp. She’d been happy hanging out in Borth this summer, running with her lovely routine – late mornings, working occasional shifts in the cafe, hanging out with her friends and her boyfriend. 

My bad. I’d booked the Royal Institution some months ago. The days were set: Predictions and Patterns, followed by Forensics, and Engineering Arches to finish on Friday. All workshops held in the heart of Mayfair. The beautiful, historic Royal Institution where so many discoveries have been made, including 10 elements of the periodic table – boom science geeks!

There’s a purpose-built science lab for kids here as well as perfectly preserved Victorian parlour rooms, large comfy sofas and ornate chandeliers handing from its high ceilings. It’s an amazing place to take in – a mix of scientific community old and new. Someone should scrawl on a wall ‘Electromagnetic induction woz discovered ‘ere!’ just to complete the picture. 

‘You’ll have a good time.’

‘You won’t make me go on my own, right?’

I watched my big girl. Would I let her left-handed, country-pumpkin self negotiate her own way on the London Underground and then walk ten minutes up the road? Would she be on the right road?

‘Of course I’ll take you.’

Her shoulders, clad in her posh, chavvy t-shirt, the choice brand of the British provincial teenager, went down an inch. I heard the word, ‘Fine,’ muttered from somewhere deep in her.

Chloe, Delph and I dropped her off this morning. A name badge was waiting for her, given by a university lecturer ready to thrill the room with mathematical importance. Lulu slapped it on her chest and stomped off to her seat.

Chloe, Delph and I continued on to the British Museum. We walked back down to Green Park, stopped to buy an umbrella in the rain, jumped on a bus and sat in a killer traffic jam. A fifteen-minute journey turned into an hour. It was nice though just to sit with them and eat our sandwiches, staring at the same furniture display until we finally moved again.

Oh wow. The bus turned into the road and we saw. Half of London’s tourists must have been inside the British Museum. The other half were queuing up to get in, past its ionic columns and far halfway to the horizon. 

‘Hold on, girls. Let me speak to the security guard.’ 

‘Be careful though,’ the African security guard said, letting us through the huge gate without needing to wait. Thank you, Delphine’s blue badge. ‘Pickpockets are operating in the area.’

We nodded, thanked him and stared suspiciously around us. Gave a lot of poor people the stink eye who’d been waiting in the queue for an hour and were still waiting. Maybe they shouldn’t come in after all, we thought, looking down our noses. The British Museum was just as busy inside as out though. We had to hold hands on the stairs so we wouldn’t be separated. We passed India, and South Asia in a haze. Walked through the Egyptian mummies weaving in and out of people.

‘Let’s get to the clock room,’ I said over my shoulder at my single-file charge. ‘There’s a cafe next to it.’

Girls nodded back. They didn’t ask to come here either. 

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