There's No Place Like London

January 28, 2017

 

It's Saturday, my twins woke up at 4 am and refused to go back to sleep. I tried reading in their room and waiting for them to fall back asleep, actually sleeping on their floor, leaving the room and hoping for the best... At 6 am I officially conceded and we came downstairs and had waffles with whipped cream, maple syrup, cinnamon, and bananas. And coffee for Mommy. We are now watching Tiny Tots, which broadcasts Canadian shows in the early hours. Presently watching, Napkin Man.  

 

 

 

My point? Other than providing unintentional birth control for my siblings, my children create a level of unpredictability unrivalled by anything I have previously experienced. Presently, I have my 8th?? cold of the season, possibly tonsillitis. I went to bed early, I couldn't even stay awake to watch Jim Gaffagan's new comedy special last night, and I LOVE Jim Gaffagan! Are there any other parents out there who have stood in the middle of the room just to stay awake whilst watching a show? Or realized that they need to sit or stand to read without falling asleep? What was I talking about? Sleep? Coffee? What is life?

 

Back up to a Friday at the end of October. Husband, all three boys, and I are seated in a cafe a block from Buckingham Palace, waiting for sandwiches. Child 1 is crying in the corner, hands over his ears, Child 2 (I actually have no recollection of what Child 2 was doing at this moment, but I know he was there), Child 3 is screaming at the top of his lungs because he wants to make letters out of the sugar packets and we told him to clean them up. Husband leans over and whispers in my ear, "this is hell." WELCOME TO LONDON!

 

My parents recently visited and did a tour of London before flying back to Canada, it had me thinking of our family trip to London and hoping that their time was more enjoyable. I have to say, I actually loved London and I can't wait to go back (maybe without my kids). Our day improved after the cafe. Hungry and tired is not a good combination, the world was much rosier after we ate. I thoroughly enjoyed walking around, seeing the sights, and humming/singing this song on repeat as we explored,

 

[Anthony]

I have sailed the world,

beheld its wonders

from the Dardanelles,

to the mountains of Peru,

But there's no place like London!

[Sweeney Todd]

No, there's no place like London...

[Anthony]

(spoken)

Mr. Todd?

[Sweeney Todd]

(sung)

You are young...

Life has been kind to you...

You will learn.

There's a hole in the world like a great black pit

and the vermin of the world inhabit it

and its morals aren't worth what a pig can spit

and it goes by the name of London...

At the top of the hole sit a privileged few

Making mock of the vermin in the lower zoo

turning beauty to filth and greed...

I too have sailed the world and seen its wonders,

for the cruelty of men is as wondrous as Peru

but there's no place like London!

[Anthony]

(spoken)

Is everything alright Mr. Todd?

[Sweeney Todd]

(spoken)

I beg your indulgence, Antony,

But my mind is far from easy.

In these once familiar streets

I feel shadows, everywhere

[Anthony]

(spoken)

Shadows?

[Sweeney Todd]

(sung)

There was a barber and his wife

and she was beautiful...

a foolish barber and his wife.

She was his reason and his life...

and she was beautiful,

and she was virtuous.

And he was naive.

There was another man who saw

that she was beautiful...

A pious vulture of the law

who, with a gesture of his claw,

removed the barber from his plate!

Then there was nothing but to wait!

And she would fall!

So soft!

So young!

So lost

and oh, so beautiful!

[Anthony]

(spoken)

The lady, sir, did she succumb?

[Sweeney Todd]

(sung)

Oh, that was many years ago...

I doubt if anyone would know.

(spoken)

I'd like to thank you, Anthony.

If you hadn't spotted me,

I'd be lost on the ocean still.

[Anthony]

(spoken)

Will I see you again?

[Sweeney Todd]

(spoken)

You might find me,

If you like,

Around Fleet Street.

I wouldn't wonder...

[Anthony]

Till then, my friend.

[Sweeney Todd]

(sung)

There's a hole in the world like a great black pit

and it's filled with people who are filled with sh*t,

And the vermin of the world inhabit it...

 

Sometimes I would find myself humming this tune pretty loudly. Something about London brings out my madness. Or maybe it's my children who bring it out. 

 

We rode the National Express for 2 hours in the morning, and then again that evening, as we were not committed to staying the night on our first go in London. There is nothing quite as exciting as helping a little boy to go pee in a bus as it veers around a roundabout. We saw as much as humanly possible with 3 little ones walking around London Town. Buckingham Palace is beautiful. I absolutely loved the Queen Victoria Memorial. My favourite part was all the tourists, taking pictures, smiling, selfie sticks, trying to find the right angle for a picture, hearing so many different languages. I find this part of travelling very endearing, people from all over the world, gathering to look at beautiful art, architecture, or landscape. Stopping to take pictures for strangers. For some reason I feel a sense of community very strong when at a world heritage site. We walked to Westminster Abbey, Parliament and Big Ben. Cue the children needing to use the toilet. We did not know that we would need to pay to use a toilet in London. YOU NEED TO PAY TO PEE IN LONDON. Carry change people! Luckily, we had 50P so Husband snuck all 3 kids in the stall with him, which I know from experience, is always a good time. 

 

On to St. James's Park! Who doesn't love a plural S? Such a beautiful park, I couldn't help but think of movies filmed on location as I strolled the pathways and chased my children. Mrs. Henderson Presents, 101 Dalmatians, Die Another Day, and honestly, the one I thought of the most, the opening scene in Alice in Wonderland, animated version. The Princess Diana Memorial is gorgeous, there are pelicans swimming and strolling by, those birds are freakishly large. I find them lovely from far away and terrifying up close (I am easily scared by wild animals with snappy beaks). I met a monk, who approached me because of the twins, twins are a magnet for friendly strangers. This introverted mother tries to perfect the look away tactic, but doesn't always succeed. Of course, this being England, the park is entirely fenced in and there are delightful cafes at appropriate intervals throughout. England does parks well. Very well. We purchased some overpriced snacks and water, then continued on our journey. 

 

Walking along the National Mall (NOT a shopping mall), the primary thing I noticed was that I was wearing a short sleeve top and all around me were people bundled in *toques and mittens. Such a Canadian I am. I have only worn my proper winter coat 3 or 4 times all winter. The secondary thing I noticed was that the road is red. After a google search I discovered that this is either due to the stones used, or it is for increased driving grip, or sometimes red is used to illustrate a bus lane. Our little lane where we live is red, and living in New Brunswick for 8 years, we saw a lot of red roads. I really like it, it makes me nostalgic for Anne of Green Gables and my past. The Mall in London is comprised of flags, trees, and a clear path to the palace on a road that I have seen on TV numerous times. It was busy walking along side. We walked to Piccadilly Circus, passed by the Duke of York Memorial and said "hello" to Florence Nightingale. So many people, shops, things to look at, food that I wanted to eat. We made our way in a round about route to Trafalgar Square. We passed by the Canadian Embassy and decided not to go in, even though we could have, because our boys were getting tired and someone gave them balloons. We all know what happens to balloons. WHY DO PEOPLE THINK IT'S A GOOD IDEA TO GIVE CHILDREN BALLOONS? Through the screaming, I was able to recognize that Trafalgar Square is magical. Truly. Imagine all the community gatherings, political demonstrations, protests, celebrations, that have taken place there since the 13th Century!

 

It was time to start heading back toward the Victoria Cross bus Station and to realize that our 6 year old had been on his feet for over 6 hours (without a single complaint- I love that kid)! Thank goodness for our double stroller which has not bit the dust yet, we put the 6 year old next to a 3 year old in the stroller and another 3 year old on Dad's shoulders. 3 year old in the stroller promptly fell asleep as we navigated the most crowded streets I have ever encountered (you must remember that I am from Canada- land of SPACE). We ended up eating at Frank's Finer Diner which I realize is not very English, or even authentically North American in taste, but it was easy and our kids liked it! 

 

More toilet exploits, no free toilets to be found, and we were back in the bus station packed shoulder to shoulder with people of all walks and smells of life. I could not push through the crowd with my double stroller, so by the time I got on the bus, there were no seats available together. I had to stand up in the aisle and ask people to move because I needed to sit by my 3 year old twins and autistic son. Wonderful, I love being awkward and public speaking. Luckily, people were quick and happy to move seats for us and we soon had 4 prime seats, right beside the toilet. Ha ha! Husband had to/got to sit somewhere all by himself near the front of the bus. I am sure it was the most relaxed he felt all day. 

 

Such an adventure day in London. I think we saw less than 1% of what there is to see and do! I can't wait to go back!

 

As for today, we have no plans other than naps. In the time it took me to write this, both of my twins had naps, but not at the same time (coordinating sleep is for amateurs). 

 

*toque- my favourite Canadian word, a small winter hat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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