It was only to be expected, but we had a fantastic time visiting C. in London.
When we arrived, we took the tube out of Liverpool Street, and sort of on a whim, got out at Holborn. We still had our bags with us so we headed off to the British Museum to use the cloakroom there. Having discarded the bags we were able to dander around the museum for a while. I used to live in university residences not far from there (it's where Gordon and I first met) so had been in the museum before, but not since the refurbishment. It looks wonderful. Lady was particularly keen to see the Chinese items so we looked around that section first, marvelling at what these people were achieving while the people where I'm from were busy bashing each other with clubs...or something. Thomas wasn't very interested, though he did call my attention to some of the stuff. We looked at the Egyptian area next. Lady explained to C. the process of mummification. There were plenty of examples, including mummified cats and crocodiles.
We didn't want to overdo the whole culture thing, and we all needed to eat to we went to the Pizza Express across the road. It's somewhere we used to go as students to treat ourselves. My friend D. and me were there once when a couple sitting next to us walked out leaving their deserts almost untouched. D. noticed my look of horror at such waste (we would have been sharing one pizza and drinking tap water) and assured me that one day, I too would be able to afford to order desert and leave it, but I'm still too tight to waste food just to make a statement!
The next day we went to the London Aquarium. I'd bought our tickets online in advance thus saving about 25% on the cost of entry. This also meant we were able to bypass the enormous queue and go straight inside, whew! This is a great place. Thomas however was less than impressed. Thomas is happier when jumping, running, climbing or when watching TV or playing computer games. Looking at lots of pretty fish didn't do much for him. He told me he was bored after only 20 minutes or so, "they're just fish, just animals, what's so interesting about that?" Delightful eh? Did I complain to him about being ungrateful, did I mention how much I would have given to be flown off to London as a child, and taken to restaurants and activities? Well obviously! Anyway, Lady loved it. One of her occasional ideas for her future career, is a marine biologist.
When we left we walked across Waterloo Bridge, keeping an eye out for a bus to take us up towards Leicester Square. For some reason we didn't pass a bus stop for ages, and it was so very cold and windy. When we did get a bus, it was a single decker, causing Thomas to huff again for a while. But not to mind because we were soon at China town and in the Harbour City for dim sum. C. doesn't eat fish so I didn't order my favourites. Thomas only ate the spare ribs, but Lady had everything. It was very good.
As promised, we then went to Hamleys. This was one of the highlights for the children. In the computer games section, there are a few Wii games set up for customers to try. There were around 20 people gathered around this sofa in front of a huge TV and console, where a couple of teenage boys were playing Mario Kart. When they finished another boy took up one of the controls, and Thomas decided to take the other. (No-one else was volunteering.) He sat and played the game, totally unfazed by the watching crowd. At the end I congratulated him for playing what was to him a new game, and doing quite well at it. He replied, "I didn't do that well, I didn't win!"
Lady choose a toy dog that can jump and bark. She has called it Master Harry, the jujitsu-shihtzu. Thomas picked a Simpson's torch and lucky bag. I had bought a gift for Duncan before I left home, to be sure of getting exactly what he wanted.
We took a trip on a double-decker bus to kill some time, and because it was what Thomas really wanted. Later we went to Planet Hollywood for dinner, since I had some Tesco vouchers. I'm glad I didn't have to pay, it was awful.
On Saturday, I had arranged to take the children out to stay for a night with Lady's best friends in the whole world. They both loved their time there. They went to a really cool playground and the maze in Hampton Court palace. For them both, it was the best part of the trip. I enjoyed catching up with my friends too, and in the evening, my sister and I met another of my oldest and best-est friends. We went to a lovely Thai place across from Centre Court in Wimbledon (I can't remember its name). Then since my sister was so incredulous that in all my time living in London, I had never been inside an O'Neill's pub (it's a chain of Irish themed pubs) we went to one for a while. It was a dive, but at least we had somewhere to sit, and to be honest, we were only interested in our conversation.
I lay in the next day, enjoying being child free for a while. My sister and I had lunch then went to a crepe place for desert. The crepes were OK, but Thomas can make pancakes just as good. I wondered if I should buy one of those crepe burners, and put the children out to work in the summer! They'd make a fortune!
We collected Lady and Thomas again then for once, had a quiet night at home. The next day we were leaving, so we packed up and headed to Waterloo station, and walked along the embankment to the Tate Modern, stopping for lunch at Wagamama on the way. We choose the smaller, lunch meals but these aren't as good as the food from the standard menu.
We hung out at the Tate Modern (leaving our bags in the cloakroom again for a while) and watched Thomas sprint and roll all over the polished floor in the Turbine Hall. Well, the main floor was closed; they're repairing that artful crack and installing a new item, but he was able to run over a smaller, raised floor. We didn't look at any of the art, but we enjoyed the big, open, ugly splendour of the building.
We crossed the Millennium Bridge (after passing the Globe Theatre, famous in our family for its inclusion in a Doctor Who episode) and caught a bus to Liverpool Street station. Our train was delayed for half an hour and I worried we'd miss the flight, but although we had to run to the security check, we were just on time to get to our gate and line up to board right away.
Once back, Gordon and Duncan came to meet us. It was so good to see them. Duncan was grinning and hugging us all. He was happy with his promised gift; the remote control Brum. They had both got along just great. Duncan was happy to be with his dad, and knew we were only away for a short time.
All in, it turned out to be a great trip for everyone. Now I have to finalise my plans for Disneyland Paris. We go in just 5 days!