Photo of Bluebell Woods in Sussex Photo of Bluebell Woods in Sussex

National Maritime Museum

The sort of morning that navigators dream about. A stroll around the National Maritime Museum in Falmouth. No agenda, just a meander.

I had been aching to visit for a long time, but even with my predilection for getting around a bit, Falmouth is not en route to many places and so it took a while to find the right excuse. The perfect excuse turned out to be: “I want to go to the National Maritime Museum in Falmouth and so I am going to go to the National Maritime Museum in Falmouth.” Said without, I must emphasise, any hint of Lesley Gore.

What pleasures and treasures lay in store! A theodolite used by Admiral John Lort Stokes on his surveys of the Australian and New Zealand coasts. A whole heap of lighthouse paraphernalia. And a surveyor’s chain that measured 22 yards, naturally, since a chain is 22 yards long.

I tried my hand at a remote-control sailing dinghy. “The children keep asking where the motor and propellers are… they find it hard to understand that it is genuinely wind-powered.” A proud volunteer assistant proclaimed, before letting pride bubble over with an uninvited explanation that I was standing in the National maritime museum. “It’s not the Falmouth maritime museum, you see?” I do.

If these moments of childish thrill were not enough, I even managed to set the best time on a simulator that tests your ability to find your way through a simple maze of nautical navigation marks. If I am going to do something childish, you must allow me to boast about it in a childish way, for consistency.

Any museum that is entirely predictable is not a great museum and so I anticipated a surprise, if this is possible, at the NMM. It came not in the collection of aerially suspended boats or in the metal telephone with a short cable that made me stoop and then allowed me to listen to Byron’s poem, ‘Falmouth Roads’. The surprise came among some sophisticated and interactive displays, and it was a simple set of panels laying out some weather lore and the truths behind them.

To celebrate my visit I have used the resulting invigoration to start a page on the website that I have been meaning to set up for a long time. The Natural Navigator’s page of weather lore is up and running. It is very much a work in progress and your contributions are eagerly awaited.