16 May A Roald Dahl Trip – Journey to the Oompa-Loompas Land
Written by Ava – Year 7 student reporter
On 11th May 2018, 70 Year 7 students turned up at Whitley Academy ready to leave for the amazing day trip ahead of them.
At about 8:10am, everyone boarded the two nice coaches prepared for the journey to the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre, in Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire. The coach ride was somehow long but everyone made the most of it, whether it was talking to friends, staring at the magnificent view from the windows, or perhaps listening to music on a phone. Outside, the weather was perfect for a Friday morning of May, with light wind and gentle sunlight.
Both coaches arrived at Great Missenden at 10:00am, parking next to a colourful (closed) fair. We jumped off them and began our minute walk in the beaming, golden sunshine round the corner to the Roald Dahl Museum that was hidden amongst the High Street shops including a comfy bookshop and a small clothes shop. At the Museum entrance, we stood in line waiting for our friendly guide, as a quiet buzz of excited voices filled the fresh air. When she arrived (Helen was her name), we were led through a fabulous Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory gate (donated by Warner Brothers Studios) and into a medium-sized room with pearl white walls. There were paintings of Roald Dahl’s famous characters, like the ‘Minpins’, the Monkey from ‘The Giraffe’, ‘The Pelly and Me’ and a lot more dotted in a line along the wall. Just underneath these were some podium-like seats in lavender purple which we filled up in no time!
We listened intently to Helen’s talk about the two main galleries: the ‘Boy Gallery’, about Roald Dahl’s childhood based on one of his autobiographies ‘Boy’, which was all about his childhood and school life, and the ‘Solo Gallery’, based on his book ‘Solo’, all about his adult life and his work. We listened to Helen talk about Roald Dahl’s upbringing, how he did in his school days; and most of all, his writing-hut at the end of his garden.
After Helen was finished explaining, we exited the room and walked across a courtyard area, down a thin and glassed corridor to where the ‘Boy Gallery’ was located. The doorway was lined with two GIANT plastic brown Wonka Bars that really did smell like chocolate! We walked past them and into a little room with poppy-red and flamingo-pink walls plastered with pictures of Roald, surrounded by short extracts of the story ‘Boy’, and facts about him in black and white. There was a tiny dress-up box, which all of us loved, filled with hats and scarves like the ones Roald had to wear in his school days. Next to the box, was a glass case which held papers with facts and extracts about the story ‘Mrs Pratchett’. The case also stored a glass jar full of fake sweets and a stuffed mouse, to represent the time Roald placed a dead mouse he found underneath a floorboard in a cruel sweet shop owner’s store.
Above the case was a picture of Roald and his friends, and to the right, was a drawing by Quentin Blake of ‘Mrs Pratchett’ that had been used in the autobiography. There was also an extract of the ‘dead mouse’ story, that mentioned Roald and his friends slipping the mouse into a sweet jar in a shop whilst ‘Mrs Pratchett’, the owner, was distracted. They passed the shop the next day to see the shop closed (which it rarely was) and the jar smashed on the floor. The three figured that their little prank had scared the old hag so bad that it had given her a heart attack! When they turned up at school, they were whipped by the head teacher, as ‘Mrs Pratchett’ had discovered that it was them who had played the trick on her.
We left the ‘Boy Gallery’, and entered the ‘Solo Gallery’ to explore Roald Dahl’s adulthood. We found out that before he was an author, Roald Dahl served as a pilot in the Royal Air Force in World War 2 and suffered severe back and head injuries. We took a long look at an exact replica of his writing hut, that was filled with all of the his real possessions (a model Hurricane plane, his own hipbone after an operation, and a fragment of ancient stone) that Roald surrounded himself with as he wrote his enjoyable, brilliant stories.
At the left-hand side of the door, there was a line drawn up the wall, labelled with the heights of almost all of the characters from Roald Dahl’s books, including an Oompa Loompa (which Miss Reynolds, our teacher, found out she wasn’t as tall), ‘Mrs Silver’, a human sized duck, ‘Charlie’, ‘Old Green Grasshopper’, ‘Mr and Mrs Twit’, Roald Dahl himself, and even the ‘BFG’! Wow!
Within the ‘Solo Gallery’ was also a model ‘Gladiator’ cockpit, just like the one Roald Dahl flew during World War 2. Next to that, was a long, polished, wooden cabinet with a couple of surprises hidden within its drawers. If you opened the first cabinet, you may find a raw lamb leg accompanied by a tattered, old, brown shoe and a TON of ice. The second one had a sticker on it stating ‘Danger of trapped fingers!’ and if you dared to open it, you might find multiple model fingers, some wrinkled or dashed with coloured nail polish. Finally, inside of the third one was Roald’s actual fake teeth!
We moved towards the start of the corridor again and went into ‘The Story Centre’, a spacious glassed room themed around stories, poems, writing and grammar. We sat down in the far right corner, and listened to Helen’s talk about Roald Dahl and his Writing Hut. Towards the end, we were given a sheet of paper with a map of activities on it. There was an animation studio, a grammar game, a fake fridge with magnets on to make a rhyming poem, a dress up area, and a face maker. We strolled around having fun with these interesting activities until it was time for us to have our lunch.
After our lunch break, we all wanted something as a souvenir, so we went to the gift shop to buy some extremely expensive Roald Dahl merchandise!
The remaining part of the afternoon for our group (we were divided into two big groups for the day), was the Village Trail around the beautiful Great Missenden. Roald Dahl moved to the village and lived there for 36 years before his death in 1990. We passed a red pump garage, which was the inspiration for the ‘Very small filling station on a small country road, surrounded by fields and woody hills’ in ‘Danny The Champion of The World’.
We then continued until we reached the Great Missenden Library, but passed the post office where millions of fans sent their fan-mails. The postman would deliver around 4,000 letters a week to Roald Dahl’s house!
Eventually, we got inside the Great Missenden Library, in which the character ‘Matilda’ would visit daily when her mum went off to bingo in Aylesbury. We read the huge quote printed on the wall which said: ‘Sit back and allow the words wash around you like music’. Underneath the quote was a shining plaque that said ‘Matilda’s Library’ in bold black text. We sat together to have our pictures taken, then got up and left. We made our way down to St Peter and Paul’s church, and hopped up the gravelly path to a memorial bench with the names of Roald Dahl’s children engraved in it. We also saw a set of footsteps way too big to be human because, of course, they were the ‘BFG’s’. We crowded around his grave in respect and admired the gifts left and the stone. We also looked at the bouquet of flowers, within them were some beautiful yellow roses symbolising warmth, love and ever-lasting friendship.
Finally, we ended the long day, and leapt back onto the coaches to leave the beautiful village of Great Missenden. A day trip like this has given us so many memories and things to learn and cherish. We want to thank the dedication and hard-work from our teachers, and most of all, the excellent behaviour of our school mates!