On the eve of Christmas Eve I decided to take the kids into the city to have one last chance to find Paddington Bear statues and to visit the Science Museum. Cameron spent the day with a friend, so I just had these three hoodlums. We got on a train at about 10:00am and didn’t get home until 7:30pm and I have to say that the kids were troopers. With the exception of a few hiccups (I’ll mention later) we had a really fantastic day.
We took the train into central London and then transferred to the tube to get to Green Park. We walked through green park and it was sunny and lovely and the kids ran around on the green grass. Green grass in January is new to me.
#19 – Golden Paws (Designed by David Beckham. Go England!)
From Green Park we passed under the Wellington Arch and entered Hyde Park. Winter Wonderland was still going on, so we made a quick stop to use the toilet and I would have bought more churros but I had no cash. (She has no cash.)
A very wintry-looking Serpentine.
#9 – The Journey Of Marmalade (Designed by Hugh Bonneville.)
We left Hyde Park toward the south and wound our way through Kensington. It was hustling and bustling with last-minute Christmas shoppers, but it was as lovely as ever.
Ahhh Kensington. Your charm.
As we searched for the next bear I didn’t realize we were approaching Harrod’s. I still haven’t been inside Harrod’s (on Christmas Eve Eve with three kids? No thanks…) but when I saw the building from afar I didn’t know what it was. I just kept thinking – “That building is gorgeous.” I didn’t get a good picture- but when I go back to actually experience Harrod’s I shall. I have mixed feelings about Harrod’s, but those for another post.
#11- Flutterby (Designed by Emma Watson, of course.)
The window displays at Harrod’s were purely magical – as you can tell by the enchanted children. After watching the t.v. show Mr. Selfridge I will never take a window display for granted again. (I ♥ Agnes Towler.)
While the kids were watching the window displays I was looking over a map at the bus stop – to figure out if it was the right bus stop and which bus we needed. I called to them, and they followed me down the sidewalk, but then I realized we were walking the wrong direction so I told them to turn around. When we got back to the bus stop I paused again to look at the map. I noticed the Eli and Simon weren’t right at my side but I assumed they were looking at the window again. When I realized they weren’t, I looked all around. I couldn’t see them anywhere. There were so many people – did I mention it was December 23 outside the biggest department store in London?
My heart started to race and I totally panicked. I couldn’t decide if I should run back the way we came, or run ahead the direction we were walking. I couldn’t decide if I should shout for help or scream their names. I was the most scared I’ve ever been about losing a kid, and just ask my family, I’ve lost my kids before.
It felt like forever but at last there was a break in the crowd long enough for me to see down the sidewalk to the corner where they were huddled with a friendly woman. I ran to the corner and both of them were in tears. They looked so scared, and I felt so scared I started crying too. The woman went on her way and we just kind of sat there on the busy corner for a minute, frozen.
When I finally had my wits about me, and the boys were calm again, we walked back to the bus stop and waited for our bus. I hadn’t decided if we needed to take a bus to our next destination or if we should just walk, but a confined space seemed like the right thing at that moment.
We took the bus just a few blocks toward the Science Museum, which happens to be really close to our favorite crepe restaurant. So we had crepes for lunch and then walked over to the Science Museum.
More of the lovely Kensington…
The Science Museum
The Science Museum was really fun, I felt badly for Eli because he had the museum map in hand, and he really could have spent the entire day there. He was totally loving the space exploration exhibit. Unfortunately Mim and Si have shorter attention spans so we had to compromise a bit. There are also a lot of hands-on science activities for kids, and Eli was interested in the science behind them, whereas Mim and Si wanted to just play with it and move on. So I’ll definitely be going back with just Cameron and Eli another time.
Map in hand… (phone pic.)
We stayed at the museum for a couple hours, about as long as Miriam and Simon would tolerate, and then took the tube from South Kensington to Picadilly Circus. It gets dark so early during the winter, that when we arrived at Picadilly the sun had already set.
#24 – Paddington the Explorer (Designed by Ripley’s Believe it or Not) We thought that the bear was inside Ripley’s so we walked into the museum, only to be told by a very, VERY tall man that he was actually across the street. I’m still not sure if that man was really that tall. But I guess that’s why it’s called Ripley’s Believe it or Not.
We left Picadilly Circus and walked toward Leicester Square. (Pronounced, “Lester”. It only took me six months to learn that one.) Leicester Square is the heart of the theatre district, where you can buy discount tickets to all the shows. (Les Miserable, Wicked, Once, Lion King, War Horse, etc…) There was a winter carnival set up there with fake snow and music and lots of festive spirit.
#26- Blush (Designed by Nicole Kidman – she plays the villain in the Paddington movie.)
From Leicester Square we made our way to Chinatown. There were a couple times when we would walk right past the Paddington and then have to turn around and backtrack until we found him. You would think with four pairs of eyes he would be easy to spot, but kids can get distracted, as you know.
#25- Paddington Lloyd Webbear (Designed by- wait for it… Andrew Lloyd Webber. Bet you didn’t see that coming.)
Eli was totally into the Paddington hunt by this point. He especially loved looking at each of the suitcases to see what they “contained”, or how they were painted. He also was very cooperative with posing at each bear, which Mim and Si were more fickle about.
From Chinatown we walked to Covent Garden and the Royal Opera House. I had been to Covent Garden with Miriam earlier, but there were new Christmas decorations up that the kids just loved.
#31- Special Delivery (Designed by Ben Whishaw who is the voice of Paddington in the movie.)
There was a life-size Santa, sleigh and reindeer made entirely of legos. Eli loved it- but you would never guess by the expression on his face. He was annoyed because there was a long queue to sit in the sleigh and I insisted that all three kids get in at the same time.
#32 – Rainbow (Darcey Bussell, English ballerina.) At the Royal Opera House.
So you can tell by the last picture that the kids were starting to get restless. We needed to walk back to Charing Cross station to catch a train so I thought we’d go by way of Trafalgar Square to see one more bear. Apparently it was more bear too many…
#27 – The Bear of London (Designed by London’s confident and quirky mayor, Boris Johnson.)
As you can tell by the poor quality of the picture I was distracted because of this…
Simon pees his pants at Trafalgar Square. #birdsacrossthepond #favoritememories
I had packed some juice boxes and snacks in the backpack for our day out, and at some point when I was distracted by looking at maps, Simon drank an entire juice box in about 20 seconds flat. I only realized it just as he finished.
Also- public restrooms in London? SO hard to come by.
So we walked across the street to a Next clothing store and bought him some new trousers. There was no bathroom there, and he was already saying he needed to go again. So I changed him in the fitting room, all the while him loudly saying “I’m sorry I peed my pants Mom. Are we changing my pants? Thanks for getting me new pants…” I stuffed the wet things in the Next bag and off we went.
Fortunately Next is right by Charing Cross, so we hustled to the station to use the toilet, except it costs 30p to use the toilet and I had no cash. So I got cash out of an ATM, but it only accepts coins, so we waited in the queue and bought Eli’s train ticket to get some change. All the while Simon whining about how he needs to go again, and me PRAYING that he doesn’t pee in his pants again.
Fortunately it all got sorted out, and we got on our train, and I just took deep breaths the whole ride home.
Once we got home we were in a mad rush to get in the car and go pick up Cameron from his friend’s house, and since we were already in the car I figured we could stop and deliver some treats we had made for Kayden’s family. They kindly invited us in, and while the kids were playing we all noticed a foul odor. Everyone blamed it on Tyler for awhile, until I realized it was Simon. In his new trousers. With no underwear, because I had completely forgotten to put underwear on him when we got home. Sooo yeah. Pure awesomeness.
Well this post was really long. Thank you if you are still reading. And perhaps you are feeling as exhausted at the end of this as I was.