Rheged Dinosaur Encounter // When days out go wrong

Toby and Gabe love dinosaurs at the moment so on Saturday we decided to  go up to Rheged in the Lake District to catch the last weekend of their Dinosaur Encounter exhibition. The exhibition has been brought to Rheged by the Natural History Museum and features ten animatronic dinosaurs plus a few other activities.

Toby and his dinosaur skeleton model

It sounded like the perfect experience for two dinosaur loving little boys but not my two…. they were both terrified! We had told Toby we were going to see some dinosaurs but because I know what he is like, I had also tried to explain that they weren’t real, they were just big models. But as soon as we went into Rheged and saw the 4 metre tall animatronic tyrannosaurus rex moving and roaring in front of us the fear took over. Toby was scared but curious and did eventually pluck up enough courage to look from a distance but Gabe was properly, clinging on to me, shaking, petrified. And that was before we even went into the exhibition itself!

We had booked our tickets in advance (£6.50/ adult, £5 /child, free for children two and under) so even though it wasn’t looking promising we decided to go in anyway. Toby did have a look at the rest of the dinosaurs, although he wouldn’t get close to them, and he enjoyed playing with the LEGO.

Gabe though was just really scared. I suppose when you’re two years old you’re aware enough to be scared but not old enough to understand that the dinosaurs aren’t real. He was just burying his head in my shoulder and saying ‘no roar, no roar’. I felt really sorry for him, it was such a shame. This is just a little snippet from my Instagram Stories on the day…

So we had a rather expensive half hour looking at the dinosaurs, and a 10 minute whinge round the shop where we refused to spend a fortune on more dinosaur toys. We then took the boys to play on the outdoor play area as entry was included in our ticket price.

Now I knew the play area was aimed at older kids but I thought there might be enough for Toby and Gabe to enjoy themselves. After a bit of initial wariness Toby did enjoy exploring some of the wooden fort play area, and even Gabe managed to climb some of the stairs to the higher parts, and braved the smaller slide.

We were just about to head back inside for some lunch after Gabe had a last turn on the slide. I was waiting for him a the bottom when a wasp started flying round his face. We were trying to get him to come down the slide to get away from the wasp when it landed on his cheek and stung him! He rubbed it away really quickly so I think he stopped it before it had got the full sting in. We got him down from the slide and it was starting to swell around his eye. He’s never been stung before so we were a bit concerned as we didn’t know how he would react.

He was really brave though and stopped crying quickly but was just saying ‘owwee, owwee’ and trying to rub his face. We got the Rheged first aider who gave us some ice and recommended we got it checked out. We did consider going to the walk in centre in Penrith but after 10 minutes the swelling round his eye wasn’t getting any worse and he seemed fine in himself. Instead we went and found a pharmacy and got him some Benadryl and within about 15 minutes he was back to normal.

Having missed out on lunch at Rheged we headed down the M6 to Tebay services. We used to go there quite often when we lived in Scotland but we’ve not been since we moved. The food is lovely and there’s a great farm shop, but it’s really expensive! We enjoyed our lunch though and then headed down to see my in-laws in Grange-over-Sands.

We did manage to rescue the day after its rocky start. The boys enjoyed playing with their Nana and Grandad (and the new toys at their house!) and Barry and I enjoyed an ice cream. Of course Toby and Gabe both fell asleep on the way home. We had pizza for tea and then instead of trying to force them to go to bed at their normal time we all sat and watched Finding Dory together before a rather late bedtime instead.

Of course by bed time Toby was saying that he loved seeing the dinosaurs, and Gabe doesn’t seem any the worse for his experience! Ironically, while we were having our lunch at Tebay I noticed a leaflet for a Brick Dinos exhibition at the Harris Museum in Preston – I think that might have been a much better day out for all of us!!

I have to say that none of this was the fault of Rheged or the Dinosaur Encounter – there were loads of families having a lovely time, and lots of children enjoying all the dinosaurs. It was just my two who were too scared to have fun!

Have you had any day out disasters lately? I’d love to hear about them so I know we’re not the only ones!

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