Suggestions for a fun family day out this summer…
By some distance the least impressive museum I have ever visited is the Tomato Museum on the island of Guernsey. I think I was about fourteen when we went, so you can imagine the impression a tomato-based attraction would have made on my adolescent mind. That’s right, none whatsoever. I don’t even like tomatoes.
How to describe? I could mention the feebleness of the displays, the battered, uninformative signs purporting to enlighten the public on the practicalities of tomato-growing, the general dirt, the ill-kept greenhouses. The inadequate refreshment area. The toilets. The random additional attractions, including a plastic Wendy House shaped like a big shoe and a ragged huddle of obsolete arcade machines.
But merely listing these things cannot capture the feel of the place. So try to imagine, if you will, that you are a bright tomato-red balloon blown up for a jolly party, but the party is over, the marquee is packed away, the empty bottles are stacked and reeking, and you have been left to wrinkle and deflate in the rubble-strewn car park. And it’s raining, and there will be no more parties ever again. That is the Guernsey Tomato Museum.
When my daughters are a bit older I will of course take them to fun places such as Alton Towers and Disneyland and whatnot, but it’s a shame the Guernsey Tomato Museum no longer exists, since I would have insisted on a visit.
“Life isn’t just Disneyland and Alton Towers”, I would tell them. “Look around you, girls. Look around you and absorb this and think on it. This too is real. This too is life.”
Perhaps there are suitable alternatives still going strong? Places that could only be enjoyed by the terminally ironic, eccentric or Jonathan Meades? I like the look of Barometer World in Okehampton. Then there’s the Pencil Museum in Keswick of course, and the Unique Dog Collar Museum at Leeds Castle. Any other suggestions?