21 October 2013

Loving London for the first time and all over again

 If you have lived in London in your youth it's very easy to take the great sights and sounds of the city for granted. Seeing them on a daily basis means that before you know it, there's no longer a great inhalation of breath as you come around the corner to see an amazing landmark right before your eyes.

That's why I was so determined that for this visit to London we would see the city through fresh, new eyes - as if for the first time. It helped a great deal that we were also seeing the city through the wonder and awe of two little people for whom this big city was one giant adventure.

Our journey started very early with a 3-hour coach trip up to London with many a game of eye-spy, guess-the-dinosaur, and grannys-knickers (don't ask!) to pass the time. And with the thought of passing by Stonehenge on the way, we managed to keep little eyes on the look out for a good part of the journey.

The thought of travelling on the Underground (or the Tube as it is more affectionately known) had intrigued the boys and the very first thing we did upon arriving at Hammersmith was take the Tube to South Kensington. Noah protested that 'this isn't travelling underground' for the first couple of stops but soon quietened down in awe when we got into full flight in the deep, dark depths under the city.

Our first port of call at The Natural History Museum was the dinosaur exhibition but as we'd entered in the opposite entrance we had a grand old wander through from the other end, beginning with a journey up an escalator into the very centre of the Earth, then through the bird hall and onto the Great Hall.

The Diplodocus skeleton in the Great Hall is jaw-dropping, both in its size and the stunning setting surrounded by such grand architecture. We didn't linger too long though, as Noah was gagging to get straight into the exhibition itself. The sheer number of skeletons and displays in the dinosaur exhibition is impressive, but the piece de resistance is the robotic nearly-to-scale Tyrannosaurus Rex roaring and moving in a very life-like manner.

 The boys were allowed to spend some money they'd been given by a friend in the museum shop, Noah chose a velociraptor claw and Mylo a T-rex tooth. We then caught up with Nikki who'd taken the afternoon off to come and join us so we whizzed around the dinosaur bit again with her, then spent some time in the great mammal hall before enjoying the views from high above the Great Hall. It is a truly magnificent setting.

I love this shot of the entrance to the museum I caught on the iPhone as we were leaving - sometimes for the best views you just need to look up!

The Science Museum is right next door so it was easy to head there for some more exploring. One of the first things that captured our attention was the giant tube that held an LCD display that was rotating around in the air.

That was quickly surpassed by the amazing sphere of Earth that lit up with many different views of the Earth from city lights at night, to showing how many aircraft are in the air above Earth at any one time, to world weather patterns.

The commentary that went with it was hugely informative and captivated us for a good few minutes.

Can you spot our favourite car in the pile-up of cars?

The kids had a ball in the hands-on area including making kaleidoscopes and making a splash in the virtual stream. By this stage it was 4pm and little feet were flagging so we walked the subway back to the tube and headed home with Nikki for a takeaway curry at her flat in Archway, North London.

Nikki had very kindly agreed to have us all descend upon her en masse for the 2 nights in London and gave up her bed for the boys, sleeping on a blow up bed in the lounge while Mark and I had a pull out couch in the sun-room. It was so lovely to spend this time with her - she really is part of the family furniture these days! Our gift to her was a set of Geek Chic PJ's (she'd admired mine earlier) so we had to do a matching PJ Instagram pic with a whole bunch of random hashtags to follow, of course!

Hashtags: #pjs #geekchics #matching #londonbaby #bff4l (best friends forever for life)

And so ended our first day in big old London Town.

To be continued.....

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