My passion for reading started when I was a little girl. I’m very thankful my parents encouraged reading stories to us (My brother and I) and introduced me to some fantastic authors, such as Judy Blume, Enid Blyton and of course Roald Dahl.
Roald Dahl’s parents were Norwegian. They came to Cardiff in the 1880’s. Roald Dahl was born in Llandaff on the 13th September 1916.
He started school in Cardiff at the Cathedral School, and then later moved to a boarding school in England. He later become a pilot in the Second World War. A crash in the desert made him famous. His writing talent began to flourish.
Some of his stories include;
Danny the champion of the world, Matilda, George’s Marvelous Medicine, The Witches, The BFG, The Twits, Fantastic Mr Fox, The Enormous Crocodile, The Magic Finger, James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, Esio Trot, The Giraffe and the Pelly and me, The Gremlins, The Minpins, Boy – Tales of Childhood, Going Solo, and rhymes such as Dirty Beasts, Revolting Rhymes, and many more including short stories.
Roald Dahl died in Novmeber 1990.
Cardiff Bay now has an area called Roald Dahl Plass named after him. He is remembered in The Norwegian Church, where he was christened as a baby.
This year, 2016, marks Roald Dahl’s centenary of his birthday (13th September 1916). There has been events put on across the country to celebrate, such as the The Dream Jar trail in London, the Wondercrump World of Roald Dahl at the Millennium Centre in Cardiff and of course Cardiff will also be hosting the City of the Unexpected on the weekend of 17th-18th September. I’m so excited for it! They are looking for volunteers to join in performing or helping backstage. I’ve put forward my interest . I hope the weather for the weekend will be dry.
As mentioned above, the Millennium Centre in Cardiff is host to The Wondercrump World of Roald Dahl exhibition.
On Saturday, I got the chance to take my children to visit. It advises from the ages of 7 up. My children are 5 and 3, I took a slight risk taking them as I wasn’t sure how they were going to react. Generally they were OK. My little girl did ask when did it finish (but I believe this was her age) and my 5 year boy who has additional needs (undiagnosed) kept holding his ears from the commentary talking. It was a fair volume, but he is very sensitive to sound. I think I need to keep a pair of ear defenders on us incase he needs them.
We were met by a friendly and bubbly tour guide near the stage in the downstairs foyer.
We were taken up to level 2, (a choice of a lift or stairs) and were met with grand red velvet curtains and gold rope tye backs. The tour guide had help with a recorded narrator. Having the interaction between them made it more realistic, with a sense of humour using some of Roald Dahl’s own language, known as Gobblefunk, using words like Whizpoppping!
We were taken into a series of well decorated themed rooms, that had original story notes, letters, and photos.
I was impressed with every single room! It had been put together brilliantly.
I don’t want to give to much away with what the rooms look like, so much better to experience it.
The first room we went into was a room full of many cardboard boxes. Roald Dahl kept all his ideas, items and fan mail in lots of boxes. It wasn’t just some boxes stacked up, all of the walls were made of them. A basic idea, actually looked quite extraordinary!
All the rooms in fact all had something remarkable about them.
The school room had desks in that you could look inside that had all sorts of artefacts. Above your head were lots of floating letters attached to the ceiling.
Roald Dahl spent time in Africa. He had a plane crash in the desert. They created a space to look like this, with a real sand for the floor, parts of the aeroplane broke up, smoke effects and a projector screen with a video to make you feel like you were flying then crash landed.
My electric wheelchair managed it over the thin layer of sand. I had to do some manoeuvres to get through it and the small tight spaces. If you are a wheelchair user visiting check the size of your chair will fit their smallest dimensions of the rooms. Before I went, I had a full descriptive email to check. I believe they said the smallest gap is 30 inches. The millennium centre did offer to use one of their wheelchairs if mine didn’t fit, which was a thoughtful gesture. With some good driving skills you should be fine!
The flooring in the forest was made of bark, which was a little tricky to go over but again manageable. I loved it! It did really feel like you were in a real forest environment with all the special design effects. The Fantastic Mr Fox features here and then goes into James and The Giant Peach theme, with a huge big orange peach that you can put your hand inside!
The character Matilda from his story book enjoyed reading. One of the rooms was designed like a library, a place she liked to visit. Be prepared to use your magic powers, you may get the books to move!
A new film version of the BFG has come out over the summer in the cinema (I haven’t seen it yet but want to!) I watched the animated version as a child and loved it. I do remember being scared of the big nasty giants! Well, there is a room made to look like Sophie’s attic. You can even whisper your dream through the dream catcher! It lights up and becomes all sparkly, very magical!
One of the rooms to walk through had the swirly spiral slinkies hanging from the ceiling, another fab basic creative idea that was so effective! My children would love their bedroom with lots of them hanging from the ceiling that they could spend hours just pulling and springing them.
There was also a button you had to press and it said what character you should try to dress up as. There were dressing up clothes to choose from and a camera allowed yourself to be seen on the screen.
The other side of the room looked like an experimental kitchen laboratory scene from George’s marvellous medicine.
Some things I would consider before visiting, is whether you can cope with tight spaces and darkness. You may struggle if you are very claustrophobic.
For some families the price may put them off, but you can save a couple of pound by booking in advance.
One difficultly I found being in my electric wheelchair is, as the spaces are very small, I wasn’t able to view all the pieces fully, to manoeuvre around the other visitors. Maybe if I had spoke up I’m sure people wouldn’t have minded moving out of the way but I’m quite a shy person. I also understand the tour is timed with the other tours going on and the recorded narrator, but I would have liked more time in some of the rooms. Saying that, it’s actually making me want to go back again to look over things, because it was all very well put together and I was impressed with the decorated themed rooms. I may try fitting in a second visit before the exhibition ends in January 2017 next year and inviting my mum along.
I do throughly reccommend it! Whether you have been a Roald Dahl fan for many years or whether he is new to you, it’s worth a visit!