I just got back from London. My wife doesn’t like me blogging about my family, so I won’t say who I was with other than it was with a woman and two small children.
We went down on Sunday afternoon. We wanted to take the two small children to Trafalgar Square, but had no idea it would be the centerpiece of the Chinese New Year celebration. We watched Kung Fu demonstrations which involved large swords and dances with women that involved giant pointy feather things on their head. The unnamed children enjoyed this. We then went up to Leicester Square for fireworks. I’ve never seen so many fireworks going off at the same time.
We went to the Natural History Museum on Monday. I had aspirations of doing both the NHM and the Science Museum. We didn’t see nearly all of the NHM before we were worn out. We were a bit worried that because it is half-term the museums would be very crowded. Because it is next to the handicap entrance, we started in the Red Zone, which is all about rocks and volcanoes and earthquakes. It didn’t seem to be overly populated.
One of the unnamed small children wanted to see the dinosaurs. That’s where everyone was. It still wasn’t as crowded as it could have been, because they have a roped off queue areas ready to manage the crowds, but this wasn’t in use. Nonetheless, we did have to shuffle along the prescribed path, past all of the bones until, hidden in it’s own room, the moment everyone’s been waiting for: the T Rex. I was anticipating an actual Tyrannosaurus skeleton. It was woefully disappointing. It was an animatronic “teenage” T Rex (as an adult allegedly wouldn’t have fit in the room). Small people were impressed enough, I think. The only actual T Rex bit in the museum was a part of a jaw.
They seem to have complete skeletons of a lot of fishlike swimming dinosaurs. The seems remarkably like dolphins. The only thing that seemed to make them dinosaurs was that they were found inland in certain stratas of rock.
After the NHM, we ambled up to the Peter Pan statue in Kensington Gardens. This is one of my favourite places in London. I saw it in one of the last scenes of Hook just before I moved to the capital city in 1992. After I found it a few days after I arrived, I used to eat lunch there on occasion. Yesterday it was great to watch the unnamed small children racing around it, even if I and the aforementioned unnamed woman had to tell them several times not to climb on it. Perhaps more reflection upon this at a later time.
I wish we had brought some bread, because in front of the statue is the place on the Long Water (the lake that becomes the Serpentine when it crosses over into Hyde Park) that the birds flock to be fed. There are innumerable ducks, swans, geese, gulls, pigeons, and I don’t know what else (because I didn’t look at the huge display showing all of the birds that can been seen on the Long Water).
After Peter Pan, we went to Westminster to see the Clock Tower and hear the chime of Big Ben. As with all of our stops, photos were taken with a large stuffed bee. One unnamed child was assigned by his teacher to take the class bee on holiday and show where the bee has travelled.
This morning after an appointment at the most fortified building in the United Kingdom – and the only one guarded by US Marines – the unnamed children, having been very good children for the whole trip, paid a visit to the biggest name in toys, all seven storeys of Hamleys. We also stopped by the Disney store before making a last minute, rather spur-of-the-moment visit to the place where the Queen lives.
I had never been to The Green Park, nor approached the Palace from that direction. Therefore I had never seen the lovely, understated Canadian War Memorial. It is a low-profile fountain of water flowing down a slope embedded with maple leafs. It is a apropos piece for the quiet, often forgotten contribution and sacrifice of Canadian servicemen during the Second World War.
Since we left London about the same time today that we got there on Sunday, I suppose I total time in the capital was really only two days, but that’s about enough for any one trip. The unnamed woman commented upon how people actually come to London and spend a whole two-week holiday. That’s a long time to spend with a lot of people and a lot of pollution. It is a shame that more people don’t see more of rural Britain, with just as much history and culture, but a lot more fresh air and wide open spaces.