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How fabulous was this? Who could help but be impressed when turning into the driveway and heading towards the historic Herstmonceux Observatory and Science Centre with its four great domes bathed in magical red lighting, so appropriate for my Inaugural Christmas Family Lecture.

What an amazing night. A sell-out! Folks were queueing for half an hour to get in! By 6.15pm everyone, adults and children alike, were crammed into the fabulous Geodesic Dome at the rear of the Science Centre where, rocking in the strong cross winds, we all felt as if we were in a spaceship bound for some exotic celestial destination … which, of course, we were as I took my very pro-active audience on a journey across the Universe, using visual and audio aids.

This was a presentation with a difference! I aimed for it to be interactive, and it most assuredly was! As the title of the talk suggested – BRIGHT LIGHTS, BAUBLES AND BEYOND – I had youngsters furiously unwrapping ‘Christmas presents’ to be surprised by hidden crackers and bright lights and baubles representing objects in the solar system. It was so much fun, and yet still maintained that undercurrent of an important message … how incredible astronomy is!

Verbal feedback has been amazing … and how better to sum up the evening than having children clamouring around me at the end and a particularly lovely ‘helper’, Charlotte, flinging her arms around me and not letting go! It’s beyond words!

Thank you so much to all the staff at Herstmonceux, but especially Helen Weeks who was always cheerful, enthusiastic and made a perfect, and most welcome, mug of tea!

Here’s to many more!

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