Pussycat, Pussycat, where…?

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.

15 Responses

  1. The story of Landseer’s commission is an interesting one. http://yourarchives.nationalarchives.gov.uk/index.php?title=Landseer%E2%80%99s_Lions_in_Trafalgar_Square The enormous misunderstanding sounds very 21stC familiar.

  2. Ooh that sounds like fun! I wish I’d ever been to London, so I could advise. However, if you ever find yourself in the midwestern US, I might be able to help. 🙂

  3. I am so excited! Wheeeeeeeee!

    I’d love to see what Harry makes of dinosaurs, one day. Bagsie we all go when he’s got the hang of Ancient Past = Can’t Possibly Be Under The Bed.

    I don’t know. Loos. Not too crowded and anxst-inducing. London Aquarium? I know a couple of four-year-olds who loved it to bits and one six-year-old who was bored rigid and a toddler who was scared of the turtle (And a grown-up (me!) who adores it fervently). Science Museum? OK, next to the Nat Hist, but usually quieter and less full of Alarming Reptiles. Depends on how Harry feels about shiny rocks. British Museum is wonderful for loos, but somewhat down on small (and large) people needing to run about and poke things. If the weather’s nice (glares at weather) the parks (Regents, Hyde) are lovely. The British Library has a fantastic, free exhibition on the history of Science Fiction with interactive bits, but it does have a socking great model alien in the middle of the room. Given the dinosaur thing, maybe not. Hmm.

    P.S. – Do NOT take Harry to Hamleys. It is a shrieking hell-hole, full of hyped-up kids maxed out on acquisitiveness and tired angry parents with head-aches. Also, it has a ‘girl’s floor’ and a ‘boy’s floor’ and it is Morally Wrong to make a small child feel their love for football figurines/doll-houses/lego/craft-kits is inappropriate.

    P.P.S. – Did I say wheeeeee?

  4. When we took our “flight” (it was a weekday), we bought the standard tickets & did not have to wait at all…
    (2 d was grossly insufficient: we rode the Eye, took a Thames tour, rode a double-decker – this was ’04 when you still could! – waited in a much longer line at Tussaud’s, & braved the crowds at the Natural History museum)
    I asked my boy wistfully yesterday (we went to see “Attack the Block” which was MUCH better than “Super 8”!) if he remembered anything of London (he was 6) – & maybe to make Mommy feel better more than anything, he said, “A bit!”
    Time to go back (nudges Hubby)…

  5. Decision fatigue! Isn’t it exhausting? Apparently our egos are being depleted, doesn’t that sound horrible?

    Have tremendous fun.

  6. Science museum. Spent all day there today and it still did the trick even though we go a lot.

  7. I’d pay to get best eye tickets …. Kids and waiting don’t go!! There is a giraffe rest on south bank right near eye. Very kid friendly

    Don’t go to hamleys. It’s hell. Absolute over priced hello and there is nothing else he would like on regents st.

    What about army Marin in chelsea ( living in London I normally drive but a short cab from sloane sq) it’s great for kids and has a great play Area for wee ones. It’s new …. Much recommended.

    And you could lunch in Peter jones on top floor (great views and loos) and run havoc in toy dept ( and trotters for toys is next door on kings road)

    Have fun!!!!!!!

    M x

  8. Or if you go to Westminster pop along mill bAnk to Tate. Boats to watch on river, quick look round a gallery or two and their restaurant is good or there is a pizza express just along from it that is always empty!!!!

    M x

  9. We visited London almost 2 years ago when the kids were 5 and 7. They loved the Aquatic centre which is right beside the London eye, not cheap but they loved it. The science museum had different ‘workshops’ on during the day we were there, the 7 year old loved the one on space, finding out things like what they do with their pooh in space! and the 5 year old loved all about making bubbles so something like that might be good – hope you enjoy.

  10. Science museum has plenty of buttons to press, and machines.
    Several tube stations are now wheelchair friendly – they are on the map, but the bus will be fun.

    I was doing my usual “oops, am at mum’s and forgot to inform HFF”. Feel less guilty now.

  11. I hope you and the brave Harry have fun on your end-of-summer excursion! Isabel was never particularly frightened of the dinosaur exhibits at our local museum despite their size, but the butterflies? She was utterly terrified of those butterflies flitting around the lovely enclosed garden with the soft classical music playing. At nearly 4, she congratualates herself often for recently conquering this fear, but don’t even MENTION Santa Claus and the Easter bunny. And you wouldn’t get me up on that eye thing for anything. Gambate yo.

  12. I got all excited when I read you were coming to Ealing as I live there – then I realised I don’t actually know you so I will obviously not be meeting up with you for a chat. The internet is weird.

    Anyway, if you have any dire emergency happen whilst in Ealing feel free to email and I’ll be very happy to help.

    London with young kids can be tricky. My two always like the science museum and when it’s not too crowded it’s great. We all liked aquarium but it’s not cheap. London transport museum is ok too.

    Hamley’s is a hell hole as others have noted. I have taken mine to the toy dept at Harrods before and found that much less stressful and still fun and tea and cakes there is nice but not cheap.

    I’ve always found Pizza Express and Cafe Rouge very good with kids.

    If the weather is nice the Princess Diana playground in Kensington Gardens is good – big ship climbing frame and sandpit. Also a small sand play area in St James’s park which mine loved when younger.

    Not sure what to suggest on the London Eye. I would err on the side of the queue jumping ones but alot of schools go back on Tues/Wed next week so with any luck things like the eye and museums might not be too crowded.

    Hope you have a great time.

  13. I also forgot the Imperial War Museum is always a hit but Harry might be a bit young

  14. I get to the end of so many things I could reply on, yet all I can be is oddly jealous of your luteal phase. Consider it a compliment!


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