IF you’re looking for something different to occupy the kids through the winter months, it’s the perfect opportunity to check out some of the many, marvellous – and often unusual – museums Essex has to offer.

The Natural History Museum, Colchester, offers you a fascinating chance to get closer to nature.

Find out about wildlife habitats, biodiversity and climate change.

Did you know that there was an earthquake in Colchester in 1884?

Or that mammoths and hippos used to roam this area?

Discover more about open salt marshes, beaches and the creatures that lurk beneath your feet.

Crawl through the badger sett, stroke the friendly fox and enjoy many hands-on activities.

Queen Elizabeth’s Hunting Lodge, Chingford is a unique Tudor timber framed hunt standing dating from 1543.

It has magnificent views over Epping Forest from its upper storeys and is still set amidst its original woodland pasture with ancient pollards.

Displays include Tudor Food, Children’s Tudor Dressing up and a Timber Frame Construction.

The Castle Point Transport Museum is housed in a former bus garage on Canvey Island; the museum is home to over thirty buses, coaches, commercial, military and emergency vehicles.

Particularly impressive is the collection of former Eastern National vehicles.

Additionally there is a display of a ranger of transport memorabilia and uniforms.

The Museum of Power is housed in the redundant steam pumping station at Langford.

The collection, which illustrates the theme of from watermill to nuclear energy, comprises engines from a large working steam engine to examples of those powered by diesel, petrol and gas.

The museum also includes a working belt-driven machine workshop.

For more information about all the places mentioned and other places of historical interest in Essex, go to www.visitessex.com