Originally published at The Apochrypha. Please leave any comments there.
We were very close to not going on this holiday. Between the stresses of the house and straining bank accounts from Christmas and the upcoming wedding it was a close run thing.
I’d managed to get a half day to help finish the packing as we’d only finally decided to go that morning. Once Finn got home from school we headed straight to the airport. I’d never flown from Prestwick before and to be honest its certainly not my favorite airport in the world. Largely forgettable and the closest I’ve ever gotten to finding an airport that looks like the one I flew out of Moscow from. It is a barn. Anyway on the way there the wind and rain were terrible and we actually thought we’d either be delayed for hours while it calmed down or the flight would be canceled. In the end though it went ahead but the turbulence was horrendous and the landing was the worst I’d ever experienced.
Yet again I was using an airport I’ve never been in before. I usually fly into Heathrow and get the Heathrow Express right into Paddington so I know my way about the Circle Line and getting to and from Victoria. Getting the train from Stanstead to Liverpool Street totally threw my bearings. Thankfully where we were going was on the Central Line anyway so it was actually quite simple. Kirsty’s brother Simon was kind enough to let us stay at his flat while he was in Barcalona for the weekend so financially we could actually enjoy ourselves. Simon met us at the station and led us round to his flat we’re we took over his bedroom. Both Nairn and Erica were beyond tired though and so screamed for at least an hour. It couldn’t have been good for Simon or his flatmate but at least they were in a different room.
We hadn’t actually worked out what we were going to do during the weekend other than to say what we’d like to do in general. We got up that morning though and decided to hit Hamleys first and start off as we meant to finish and let the kids enjoy this weekend as much as we hoped to. We managed to navigate from the flat to Leytonstone Tube Station very easily which was actually a sign of things to come. Being fifteen minutes by train outside of the centre of London sounds great until you realise that it can take another 30 minutes at least to get from one side of the centre to the other and even more if it involves changing trains. Anyway we got off at Oxford Circus and sauntered round to Hamleys. It was mobbed. We managed around the top 3 floors but had to leave after Findlay spent a while playing with a remote control car and bike. It was just to claustrophobic but the boys were loving it though.
We then headed down the Victoria Line and got off at Victoria Street Station to head up past my work and onto Buckingham Palace. I took everyone along Victoria Street until we found Westminster Cathedral. WE wandered around there for a wee while before I dragged them up Palace Street past my work whilst confusing my mate who was in the office by asking him where I could get a bottle of juice from. Buckingham Palace isn’t really much to see. Unless you catch the changing of the guard I can’t quite work out why such large crowds would come and see it. Anyway we walked up past a park and down to the riverside. I’ve seen the London Eye from a distance before but even although its ‘only’ 135m high you just don’t quite get how high it is until your standing underneath it. We’d had a choice to make earlier about whether to go up during the day or go up after the sun had set. Thankfully we went up when it was dark and the whole of London was lit up. It made it look more like a toy town from the very top than the grey mass it really is that you see during the day. We managed to get back to the flat for about 8pm going past Tesco on the way. There is a Christian charity shop on Leytonstone High Road that has some of the most amazing furniture and we clocked this amazing dolls house in the window but on closer inspection it was actually a birdcage!
It rained. And rained. And rained. It was also bloody freezing. Did I mention it was a bit wet? I don’t know wether it was stupidity or sheer brilliance but we headed to Camden Market that morning. I really must look more into the tube stations though before we do things like that. Trying to carry an occupied pram up and down the 96 step ‘emergency’ stairwell because its the only way in and out is just sheer lunacy at the best of times but when you’ve got a train full of folk around you as well it just gets silly. We made it though. And this is where we discover the one thing that annoys the hell out of me about London. Unless your at a huge supermarket or a tube station there are no speed bank machines anywhere! We walked the full length of Camden looking for one until we hit Morrisons and ended up in there for a cup of hot chocolate. Thankfully the boost of heat brightened up our day so we went back around the markets for another look. Vonnie was a bit disappointed that we only spied one ‘fake’ celebrity in the form of Peaches Geldof but in a town of 5 million people what are your chances? We came to the conclusion that we could actually live in Camden but I can’t stand the commuting
After that we headed over to Covent Garden for some more markets and shops. It looked lovely but my god you get some amount of pretentious folk down there. I was also in what has to be the worst laid out shop on the planet. Lush in Covent Garden really needs some traffic lights and a one way system put in. I’m not joking when I say there is barely enough room for one person to move in an aisle never mind a shop full with bags of shopping!
We finished the night off with the Transport Museum. I didn’t think it was as good as the one in Glasgow but then it only deals with London transport rather than any and all forms. No row upon row of old cars but plenty of buses and trains. The kids loved it though which it why we were there.
We were up early so that we could meet Despina and her family for a jaunt around the Science Museum. Lovely people and Findlay got on great with Josh. I don’t know how we managed it but we managed to spend about 5-6 hours in there and it flew past! Nairn did a bunk at one point though from one of the kids areas and almost made it to the lifts but we caught him just in time. On the way out we were surprised to find a piper so Vonnie had to get him playing Flower of Scotland and Scotland the Brave! We went for dinner in a wee Italian restaurant around the corner which was nice. The pasta was a bit weird but still nice despite that. I don’t actually remember much after that as I think I dozed off on the tube back to Leytonstone.
How there wasn’t any bloodshed I really do not know. We headed back round to Hamley’s to pick up a few things and then jumped the train back out to Stanstead. We decided that rather than rushing about with the kids and possibly being late for the flights we’d get there early and try and relax. Between all the carrying of prams, bags and very little sleep from the night before I was a walking wreck and how Vonnie didn’t snap and stab me at several points I really do not know. Anyway we made it onto the plane only for Erica to scream the entire flight and Nairn to act up. If he wasn’t headbutting Findlay for his toys he was trying to open the lifejackets under the seats. We did win a free flight out of it though so its not all bad. We will be using that for a night/weekend away for us and ntothe kids though as I don’t think we could handle that again until the kids are a wee bit older.
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