Hungover is no way to be when your in a strange city with four wide awake kids and a checkout time that is stupidly early. Thankfully I wasn’t that bad though.
With a squash and a squeeze we managed to fit everything into our bags and put them into the left luggage room at the hotel. We had most of the day to spend in London before heading out so we thought we’d go to the Natural History Museum as we never managed it during our last visit. As the museum was just along the road from us we decided to walk thinking it was only a ten minute walk away. An hour later we arrived at the museum only to have to walk all the way around the outside to get to the entrance that had a lift for the pram. It was quite stressful.
Nairn seemed to love everything and ran about shouting and declaring everything to be ‘way cool’. We wandered under the giant escalator and through into the rooms full of stuffed birds. The owls were particularly cool but Nairn was very taken with the giant ammonite fossil he found.
It was here that we decided to find somewhere to eat as we were all starving and also here that the day started to go downhill very fast. We loaded up our tray with kiddie meal bags as they looked far nicer than most of the other meals on show and started to head towards the till. That’s when we realised we’d left Vonnie’s purse back with the bags at the hotel. We decided to cut our losses and let the kids see the dinosaur exhibition and then leave in the hope that we’d get back to the car before we collapsed due to lack of food.
The dinosaur exhibition is really good but it has to be the busiest part of the museum. We queued up to get in and then pushed along by the crowd like a conveyor belt. The pathway that runs over the top of the exhibits scared the hell out me but then I’m terrified of heights at the best of times but when your on a suspended bridge holding several hundred people moving from side to side I panic. When we reached the far end we weren’t sure what was next but we could hear a tape of a dinosaur shuffling and grunting and thought they just had a video on the go. When we turned the corner there was a giant animatronic T-Rex, it might have a smaller dino though, moving about it’s enclosure. Needless to say Nairn and Erica stood where they were and started crying. We eventually got them moving and the rest of the exhibition looked really cool and if we’d have had the time we could have spent all day in there alone but as I’d left Vonnie back at the restaurant with Greer I figured we should hurry back.
It was when we got back, and I chased away the Australian photographer that was chatting my wife up, that the kids met Charles Darwin. He came along with his box of beetles and his magnifying glass and taught the kids about evolution. He was quite funny and the kids seemed to love it when he talked about dung beetles and giant balls of poo.
So we left there and got the tube. After a little confusion at Embankment thanks to the Victoria line still being off we eventually made it to Clapham and eventually found the car. I was terrified the car would be clamped as the visitor pass we had was for 2008 I think but I shouldn’t have worried. After scoffing some of the food we’d left in the car we headed back to the hotel and off on our way to…well we didn’t know at that point.
It wasn’t until we had picked up our bags that we decided that we weren’t heading back up to Scotland via Derby. Vonnie decided it would be waste to have come all that way and not done something else down there. As I’d suggested Brighton, it was one of the places I’d phoned campsites for earlier in the week we headed there. It took us almost two hours to get from Kensington to the M25 and that was on a Sunday afternoon/evening. I’ve no idea what it would be like on a week night! Eventually we started phoning up the campsites I knew about looking for any spots they might have. Not one single campsite answered thier phone. As we got closer and closer to Brighton I started to panic and we ended up just turning up at the campsite that had originally told me to just turn up if we went down that way as they were sure there would be last minute cancellations. We arrived to find a notice on the gate saying the site was full despite being able to plainly see only half the pitches were taken.
Vonnie took charge at this point and started checking every hotel we passed as we finally drove into Brighton itself. Noone had a family room. In total we must have tried six or seven campsites and about 15 hotels and no one had space. Eventually we found a Radisson just behind the sea front that had a family room available for a small fortune but once we seen it and spent the night there we booked it again for the next night. The ids had a room to themselves with a huge flat screen TV with CBeebies and CBBC to keep them occupied while our room had a four poster bed with another giant TV and a huge bath in front of the bay windows. The wallpaper was £45 per roll! Don’t ask how we know that last fact.
By this point it was late and we were shattered so we got the kids in bed and had an early night ourselves.