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Museum Sqaure, Keswick CA12 5DZ
+44 (17687) 75102
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Marymoose and Frineds Get Puzzled!
Workington, United Kingdom
September 5, 2009
Best of IgoUgo
---Intro---I love the August Bank Holiday weekend - hubby goes off diving with another woman and my friends come up to stay (the legendary G, K, S & R) to keep me company and a weekend of fun, frolics and lots of booze commences – highlights ...
I love the August Bank Holiday weekend - hubby goes off diving with another woman and my friends come up to stay (the legendary G, K, S & R) to keep me company and a weekend of fun, frolics and lots of booze commences – highlights including the rewriting of "Who Killed Cock Robin" and keeping our poor neighbours awake with midnight renditions of "Babooshka" and "No Limit" on Singstar.
---Where is it---
Anyway, whilst out and about in Keswick on a relatively miserable (well, it’s hardly traditional August weather) Saturday I decided to take them to "The Puzzling Place" which is located just off the high street (there are signposts if you’re struggling to find it) in Museum Square – amazing (well, puzzling…) that loads of people I’ve spoken to don’t know it exists. Having been with the in-laws several years back (the same day that my mother-in-law bought me a dog toy to play with – admittedly it was a moose, but a dog toy nonetheless), and with a friend a while earlier this year when we had some time to kill, I thought it would be right up their street, especially the boys (G, K & S) who are easily amused. According to the website (www.puzzlingplace.co.uk – not the best website, but worth checking out if my review doesn’t convince you) it opened in 2001.
---Entrance and the Shop---
On entering the Puzzling Place you walk up a flight of stairs and arrive in a shop. There’s a sign saying that there’s no public toilets in the building, but that’s hardly a problem unless you have an extremely weak bladder.
The shop contains a wide range of gadgety type gifts – you could end up spending a fortune in there (I imagine it would be a nightmare if taking kids). Alternatively you could go online and find everything that’s in the shop at reduced prices.
You pay to enter the exhibition in the shop, at the cost of £3.50 per adult (£2.75 for children and concessions, under 5s free I think) which is definitely well worth it. You’re probably looking at spending just under an hour in there – but it’s an hour of much amusement (even with the in-laws!), and I think that the five of us will still be reminiscing on the experience in 20 years time.
The Puzzling Place is open from 10am to 6pm, 7 days a week.
The Puzzling Place is essentially one big room (with a few bits going off the side), a bit like an Art Gallery. It’s full of exhibits which I’ll now run through.
If you’re fascinated with optical illusions as I am, then you’ll love the Puzzling Place. There are various optical illusion pictures on the walls (some you’ll probably be familiar with, but others you won’t be), but there’s also more exciting interactive illusions – such as a mirror which made us look HUGE (even K and R who are very thin), a spinning wheel thing where you press a button and it spins round (and then you have to look at the back of your hand and it appears to be wobbling), a mirror where you stand opposite a friend and swap features which each other (my eye’s and R’s nose etc), a kaleidoscope which you get inside, and various other things to pick up and/or look at. The optical illusions are the basis of the Puzzling Place, and there’s a pretty big selection – you’ll certainly find something which impresses you. It’s a very interactive experience and children will love it, although smaller ones might need some of the things explained to them so that they understand what it’s all about.
I don’t think this exhibit was here last time I went (or perhaps it was out of action). In a side room there’s a fish pond projected onto the floor. If you jump on it, or wave your arms around then it simulates a splashing in the pond and the fish move accordingly, quite fun.
One of the highlights of the exhibition is a room which is a bit like a crooked house, in that the floor is at an angle. Hilariously K fell over as soon as he entered the room, and he never really recovered from that – he was all over the place – it is said to cause feeling of nausea in some, and pregnant women should exercise caution. We did get some funny looks. Inside the anti-gravity room there’s a ladder which you can stand on, making it look like you’re leaning forward. There’s a broom stick which stands up on its own, a mini snooker table where the ball seemingly rolls downwards on its own, and there’s the moving chair which we all had a go on (someone joked that it was a sign of what’s to come as it’s a bit like a stair lift). A child helpfully informed us that although it looks and feels like the chair’s just moving on its own, it’s actually because the floor in the room is not normal!
There’s an impressive selection of holograms including some of the earliest ones from the 1960s. I remember back in the 1980s being taken to a hologram exhibition in York and was amazed by them when I realised that they weren’t actually real objects. Unfortunately though the holograms are mainly from the 1980s and 1990s (when these things were particularly popular), and do look a bit dated in the light of things we have these days. However, there are still some good ones such as the mad hatter’s tea party, a trombone, and some which look different depending on which angle you view them from.
---The Little/Big room---
In a side room off the hologram exhibition, there’s a very clever room, which I have decided to name the little/big room. If you stand in one corner then you appear to be absolutely huge, but in the other corner you appear to be tiny. When in the room you can view what you look like on a TV screen – alternatively a friend can take a photo through the viewing window. This is quite a surreal experience; you can get the gist of it from looking at my pictures! I particularly enjoyed being a little person!
The Puzzling Place is definitely worth a visit if you’re out and about in Keswick, especially if the weather’s miserable as it was for this August Bank Holiday (and the last one come to that)! It was pretty busy inside (like minded people I suppose!) particularly when we arrived (when I’ve been before it has been less busy), but we still had a chance to experience the exciting rooms without other people around – perhaps though they were too scared by our screams and laughs coming out of the anti-gravity room.
It’s worth going just to experience the anti-gravity room and the little/big room – and if we were amazed by it, I can imagine that kids would be even more impressed! The only downside really is that some of the exhibits could do with being spruced up a bit, but I would imagine that this is an ongoing process.
I would certainly recommend if you’re up for a laugh!