Tuesday 1 September 2015

A Little Visit to London

Laurie was down in London a couple of weeks ago for some training, so me and Ebony decided we would tag along and make use of his hotel room. I really don’t know why we haven’t done this sooner, it was so lovely to make an impromptu trip down to London. Ebony will be joining the local school nursery in a couple of weeks and then we’ll be stuck with school holiday trips only, so it seems even more ridiculous that we failed to make the most of this little freedom.

Laurie left early in the morning and, not being a fan of early starts, me and Ebony decided to get the train down a little later in the day. We filled Ebony’s backpack with toys and snacks, and boarded the train. The journey takes just over two hours, the train was quiet and Ebony was an absolute dream to travel with. She played happily by herself, kept busy with a sticker book and chatted excitedly about going swimming in London. Why else do you travel 150 miles if not to swim?

Once in London, we decided to check out the British museum because it was relatively close to London Euston. It was raining heavily, and Laurie had somehow managed to take Ebony’s raincoat with him instead of leaving it for us to take. I was considering buying a new one, but there wasn’t really anywhere nearby to get a cheap one from, so in the end we just made a run for it. We had an umbrella, and it wasn’t cold, so Ebony seemed pretty happy walking the fifteen minutes to the British Museum.

Once we arrived at the museum, I realised that visiting London during the holidays was probably not my brightest idea. It was so busy, every inch of the museum was bursting with wet, miserable tourists (like us). It soon became apparent that the British Museum isn’t really aimed at three year olds. It’s full of pottery and old things, which is really interesting to me, but not so much to Ebony. There was a section on the map that claimed to be perfect for younger guests, so I asked a museum worker if it would be suitable for Ebony’s age. He explained that it was actually storage for large bags at the moment, so probably not.

I made the mistake of telling Ebony that our hotel had a swimming pool, and this meant she really didn’t give a crap how old the jugs were, she just wanted to go swimming. She was interested in the mummies, but mostly just wanted me to tell her over and over again about how there were dead bodies inside (is this worrying?). After her millionth request to go swimming, I agreed and we took the tube over to Paddington. We passed an Itsu on the way and stopped to buy some vegan sushi, miso soup and dumplings for dinner. Ebony, who definitely didn’t want any miso soup of her own, consumed most of my soup as soon as reached the hotel, and then insisted that we went swimming immediately.

It was actually quite lovely to take her swimming. Laurie usually takes her on Sunday while I work, it’s sort of their thing. I did used to accompany them, but it always seemed ridiculous for so many of us to pay to swim when in actual fact nobody got to do any swimming. I found out that she loves jumping in, and that she can sort of almost swim but quickly starts to sink if she panics. We spent about an hour in the pool and then decided it was time for dinner. By the time we got back to our room, Laurie was there having finished training for the day. Ebony shared her dinner with him and then went to bed. Laurie went out for more sushi and then we watched Humans with the volume right down so as not to wake Ebony.

The next morning, Laurie and Ebony went swimming first thing. Then me and Ebony made our way to Princess Diana’s Memorial Park. It was quite an impressive park, with plenty of different areas to move around. It was sunny and dry, and so the park was quite busy. Ebony made a few new friends and had fun exploring the park with them. After an hour or so, we got a tube across to Bethnal Green to meet a friend at the V&A Museum of Childhood. I’d never been to the museum before, and it was pretty busy thanks to the summer holidays. It looked like a really interesting museum, and I’d love to go back on a quieter day and really have a look at all the old vintage toys.

After that, we walked down the road to the Gallery Cafe for a vegan pizza with my friend. It’s nice to meet up with friends, but it;s hard to really catch up when you have a three and a half year old with you. After we’d eaten our pizza (good, but really weird vegan cheese that didn’t taste remotely cheesy but sort of glued your mouth together), we’d make a hasty exit so as to avoid rush hour on the tube. This failed, obviously, and we ended up on board a painfully busy central line tube heading across London.

We had been planning to visit Coram Fields thanks to a recommendation from the lovely Eleanor of The Bristol Parent fame. Alas, the weather was against us so we didn’t make it there this visit, though definitely hope to next time. Instead, we made the obligatory trip to Hamleys, and Ebony conquered her fear of escalators (you can read about that here). After surviving yet another rush hour tube trip, we went to a pub in Euston to meet Laurie and a friend for a quick dinner before jumping on our train home.

We were booked onto the 8:40pm train home, way past Ebony’s bedtime so was a little worried that the journey might be less than enjoyable. Laurie convinced me and the friend to share a bottle of wine at the pub, leaving me convinced that Laurie would be taking over childcare duties on the way home. As luck would have it, our train was absolutely heaving. Laurie and I had book our tickets separately and so were sitting apart, and Ebony wanted to sit with me (what can I say, I’m extra fun after half a bottle of wine…). Luckily, she played happily for an hour and a half on my knee before turning round, snuggling up to me and falling fast asleep.

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