Harry starts school a week on Tuesday. I have blinked, and the long summer holidays have vanished; my rose-tinted plans of tramping the hedgerows looking for wild flowers and quiet picnics in sunny, remote fields have, largely, not happened. (I blame the weather, because otherwise I shall have to blame my own inertia.) I did, however, promise Harry some time ago that he could go to London, because he wanted to go to the Queen’s house (after waving busily at her in Stratford earlier in the year) and play with her. This has evolved, after gentle nudging in the direction of the Real, into a fervent desire to go on the ‘underground trains’ and the London Eye. I have acquiesced, and we are going for a couple of days on Tuesday; John is too busy for an overnighter, so Harry and I are travelling à deux.
This is a first, and I am mildly nervous in case Harry decides to wake at sparrowfart, because Ann Really Does Not Do Sparrowfart – John takes that particular one for the team every time – and I have booked us into a Laterooms Cheapie in Ealing, which has secure parking and is most conveniently adjacent to the Tube, but TripAdvisedly has walls like ricepaper and a habit of completely losing Laterooms reservations. It is awfully likely that, for once in my life, I will be early to breakfast – charged extra at £11. That had better be some stonkingly good coffee.
What with pronounced hypermobility and likely dyspraxia, Harry tires quickly when walking - but pushchairs are simply dreadful things to lug about the underground, plus Harry is most aggravating to convey with one, tending to both moan and groan about being sometimes instructed to stretch his legs and walk for a short distance, or impulsively leaping out without warning and promptly being run over by his own chariot wheels. Consequently, I’m not taking one, and have planned to pop up from Piccadilly tube station like a pair of meercats, and march Harry straight onto the City Sightseeing red buses, which go everywhere we want. A brief scurry off the bus onto the Eye
(do I buy standard £ tickets for a ‘flight’ slot and risk a horrendous bus-delay/Eye queue and missing our slot? Flexi-timed tickets for ££? Queue jumping tickets for £££? Flexi-timed, queue-jumping tickets for ££££? God, the decisions I am having to make here, people. I don’t even particularly want to go on, myself; I’ve been before and I’m not mad on heights.) and that is likely all the walking I will subject him to on Tuesday - although if anyone has any suggestions for a kid-friendly eatery between the Eye & Ealing, then do pipe up. Harry’s ideal evening cuisine, to my great maternal shame, is Pizza Hut, Frankie & Benny’s, McDonalds, and fish & chips, although *begins to yammer defensively* the kid does have some fairly rigid textural issues with food that are markedly unhelpful in re: menu expansion.
Wednesday, we can stroll around Trafalgar Square, as we are meeting May (hurrah!) there for coffee on her way to work. If there happens to be a child being rescued by fire crews from a unconscionable distance up Nelson’s Column on the news: it will doubtless be mine, as I feel Landseer’s lions, which are rightly famous, might be quite popular with my junior contingent – although I’m aware that the lions are suffering structural damage from 140-odd years of tourist abuse, and my inner conservationist is already shifting uneasily from foot to foot.
And that is all I have planned, apart from a trip to New Bond St, as I have a voucher for the Victorinox (Swiss Army Knife) store, that can only be spent there. I am looking to replace John’s Leatherman, which I may or may not have been responsible for depositing in the middle of a main road and subjecting to heavy vehicle crushing for a day or so. *Ahem*
I suppose I could take Harry to Hamleys - although they tend to sell broadly the same toys everyone else does, but at a monstrous premium, and I know I’d never winkle him out without a strop. I’d like to go to Westminster Abbey, myself, having never managed to make it past the doors before, but Harry might not be terribly impressed. The Natural History Museum will be heaving, so we’ll do that another day when he’s older and better emotionally equipped for actual dinosaur dimensions. If he is obliged to mentally process the fact that beasts the size of diplodocus
can’t actually fit under his bed in order to scare him – along with the aliens, bears and crocodiles that also seem to regularly inhabit it - well, there could be existential confusion and outsized nightmares later. I don’t fancy Tussauds, and Harry certainly wouldn’t have a clue. Tower of London is great, but expensive, and I think that’s another one for a later day.
Perhaps we would be best advised to simply head to the place with the most toilets per square foot. Harry’s needs are predictably unpredictable, and my needs will be predictably tiresome: my period arrived yesterday, to the expected second, near enough - my follicular phase might be days, weeks or frequently months, but my luteal phase kicks 14-day arse - so I will be lugging around a bag full of industrial-spec sanitary items, plus spare underwear for mother AND child.
God help my blushes during the ubiquitous security bag-checks.