It's now 2 weeks since Anna and I set off to Newcastle for the day, all excited at the prospect of going to the Doctor Who exhibition at the Life Centre there. I should have taken her to Glasgow when it was there last year but I was too ill. Having said that, getting to Newcastle was probably easier. We caught the train at the top of our road at 9am (although we could have left half an hour later and still had plenty time), changed at Edinburgh and arrived in Newcastle around 11.30. The only downside to that was our discovery that Costa Coffee's vanilla flavoured cold thing is not in any way remotely the same as a Starbucks' Vanilla Cream Frappucino, much to Anna's disappointment. Sickly and disgusting don't do it justice.
The Life Centre, which houses the exhibition, could not be easier to find. You go out of the main station entrance, look left, and there it is. The Centre itself is similar in nature to the Glasgow Science Centre, although not quite a elaborate. Our tickets for the two of us cost around £17 and that covered access to all of the facilities. I'd booked them online but the tickets hadn't been produced locally, which apparently is a common problem - so remember to take the confirmation e-mail.
You are supposed to book for a particular "showing" at the exhibition and our's was at 12:30. However, because it was still the school term and they weren't that busy, we could go in whenever we liked.
We spent some time looking at the science exhibits first. I was particularly partial to a ski mobile thing in the Arctic life exhibit. We also had to smell some horrible city smells and guess what they were. Sweaty feet was the worst of them.
Then we decided we couldn't wait any longer and climbed the very long ramp to the exhibition itself. Virtually the first thing we saw when we got inside was this picture of Matt's before and after costumes, which made me realise that there was stuff from the season just shown in here, much to my surprise. The day was getting better:
Matt is one very skinny boy if these costumes are anything to go by. Although he is huge in comparison to the dresses worn by Kylie and Alex Kingston which were also on display.
Then the smoking TARDIS, crashed as per The Eleventh Hour - and yes, this is the right way up:
I have squillions of photos I could put up, but then you'd be here all day. You do have to see this one of the best daleks ever though. The memory of a dalek voice compliantly asking "Would you care for some teeee....eee is one of the abiding memories of the last series.
The exhibition is crowded with Who memorabilia from the past 5 years. The Empress of Rachnoss takes pride of place in the centre of the hall.
Anna is petrified of Cyberman, so she ran very quickly past these:
Unfortunately, they were very close to this guy, whom she absolutely adores, which was a bit of a shame.
We were spoiled for choice - there were slitheen, Sontarans, the Family of Blood, Peter Kay's absorbaloff, an ood in a cage, silurians, the scary Santas from the Runaway Bride, the Face of Boe, a scary weeping angel and the terrifying autons from the very first episode of the reincarnated series in 2005. Anna was scared to walk past them because she said they moved. I told her not to be silly only to catch one of them jerking its head out of the corner of my eye. I just about jumped out of my skin. At least that turned Anna's fear to laughter.
We literally spent ages in the exhibition. One downside was that it was incredibly noisy. Each of the exhibits has some soundtrack with it but it's quite hard to differentiate the individual sounds and it does become an at times overwhelming din.
I took this photo from upstairs which shows one tiny part of the floorspace:
And the other side:
Thankfully when the heat and noise and excitement got too much, there was a wonderful air conditioned, soundproofed planetarium with incredibly comfy chairs to retreat to. Not only did you get to recline back, but they showed you either a lovely film about stars narrated by David Tennant or a lovely film about planets narrated by some guy I'd never heard of. It was a wonderful contrast to the organised chaos outside.
Upstairs was a Dalek exhibit which I won't spoil for you, but if you're in any way of a feartie disposition, it might be best if you avoided it. Anna found it quite scary - and so did I to be honest although I had to be big strong mama for her sake. It doesn't last long and it is very good, so if you can take the scariness, cofnined space, strobe lighting and sudden noise, I'd recommend it.
We didn't really want to leave the Who exhibition but we thought we should look round some of the other exhibits in the science centre. There was one of these exhibits where you are filmed reading the news - Anna and I shared reading weather forecasts of the future if climate change is really allowed to take hold - drought, storms, ice, that kind of thing. I liked it best when Anna just made up her own script and talked about all sorts of random but very funny nonsense.
The Life Centre is 10 years old this year so they did a show of their most popular exhibits.The audience chose which 6 of the 10 items on offer they wanted to see. They were traditional sciency fun things - different coloured flames, noises, the kind of stuff kids love. For the penultimate part, they needed audience participation and Anna ended up going up on the stage where a plastic bag full of water was held over her head and then punctured with skewers. The audience held its breath wondering if she was going to get a soaking, but she came back to me dry.
One word about the Life Centre, though - the only cafe open that day was the one near the main entrance. I have to be honest. The food was vile. My tuna sandwich tasted like it was made with sawdust and water mixed together and Anna's cheese sandwich was dry and plastic tasting. My advice would be to take a picnic. That said, all the staff in the Life Centre were lovely and friendly.
After a stroll round the shop - beware, they have a reasonable selection of Current Doctor Who merchandise - we caught the train back at around 5.30 pm and were home, exhausted by 8.
It was a really tiring day for me - and the fact that it took me the best part of 10 days to recover from it shows that I'm not as well as I'd like to think - but it was absolutely brilliant and I'd definitely recommend it. If you're a Who fan and can possibly get to Newcastle before 31st October, it is a must see.
Oh, and I do know the answer - but can you remember what the wee blue guy at the top of the page is called?