My advice to anyone visiting the Barbican’s Rain Room is to treat the two-hour queue as part of the outing. Bring games, books, a picnic. Bond with your neighbouring queuers. The kids can run off and make friends like they are in a Mediterranean holiday club. You can read a book, sit back, relax.
Don’t turn up there with two children, half a Tommee Tippee of watered-down orange juice, one Maisie book and 23% charge on the iPhone.
Ordinarily I would have about-heeled around as soon as I saw the sign: “Queueing time two hours from this point”. Especially as ‘this point’ was about 20 people away. But we’ve all been house bound by sickness for so long – and I was so proud of myself for having made it this far with just me and the kids and public transport – I couldn’t face the idea of going straight home.
In fact, even with my poor preparation, it wasn’t as awful as it sounds. Gertie slept for most of the 140 minutes; Stan didn’t whinge about being bored too much – and it is pretty cool when you do eventually get in there.
For those of you who haven’t heard about it, the Rain Room is an installation by Random International and a chance to “experience what it’s like to control the rain.” Water falls continuously like rain, but sensors make it possible for it to rain everywhere apart from where you are. It means you can walk through a monsoon and stay dry.
They only let five people in at a time and you are free to remain as long as you want, which, combined with the noise of torrential downpour, makes for a surprisingly intimate and relaxed experience.
It’s on until the 3rd March, it’s free, and I would definitely recommend going – just be prepared. As Stan said on our return: “But how did all those other people know there would be a long queue mummy? Those other people who bought games and snacks?”
Click here for more ideas for things to do in London with kids.