These newcomers to London started with an act of sabotage! I did three rounds of laundry without a problem while I was by myself. As soon as my lovely wife got to it, one of my best dress shirts turned from white to salmon pink!!!…
The first full day together was spent just as we were planning our free time in the new land – sightseeing. Since the kids have never been to London before, we simply arrived in the center of the city and walked around a bit, stretching the exercise for several hours. Kimmy was especially excited about Big Ben and the London Eye (which she kept calling “Ferris wheel”). We actually planned to take a spin on it, but decided against it at the sight of the waiting line.
Instead, we looked at the Trafalgar Square (which was occupied by some sort of party, all participants appearing to be of Muslim persuasion), walked down Whitehall (stopping by the guard, dressed in bright red overcoat, and – unlike our expectations – not exactly frozen in his posture), spent some time on Parliament Square gazing at the Big Ben, and then proceeded to the Westminster Abbey.
Becky, who is now 12 looking like 14, is always below the paying age for any attraction – in this case, she was “soon turning 11”. Somewhat surprisingly, the Abbey impressed her (even though, it is clearly not an amusement park). The Abbey is definitely a rather cool sight to visit, given the multitude of tombs and monuments to royals and to famous people that are housed inside. Newton Becky could even recognize, being able to recite the First Law of Motion in perfect English. Shakespeare, of course, too. But we filled her in a bit about Byron, Chaucer, Tennison and others, and simply reading inscriptions and working through dozens of “who’s that?” was a good fun.
The Abbey also has several nice stained-glass windows, and some impressive chapels and altars. Royal tombs are so lavishly decorated, that Kimmy repeatedly asked whether the decorations were for a wedding. Otherwise, she simply tagged along.
We bought day travelcards for the entire family – grand total is £12.30, allowing unlimited rides anywhere from the city center to our humble village. At some point, the kids wanted to have a ride on a double-decker, which promptly got stuck in traffic. Maybe, it was for the best: We planned to go only a couple of stops, which lasted almost 20 minutes…
On our reconnaissance trip in September, Natasha and I had a nice lunch at the Sherlock Holmes restaurant near Charing Cross. Natasha especially liked their mushroom soup and was longing for an encore. Unfortunately, this time, soup of the day was broccoli, which no member of this family appreciates enough to try. We settled for fish and chips (accompanied by green peas puree, which provided endless source of entertainment on the basis of its color and consistency), stuffed mushrooms, tomato salad and the staple of Kimmy’s diet – bread and butter, with plain water. The restaurant is decorated with pictures and portraits related to the famous detective. There is also a room behind the glass, recasting Holmes’s apartment, complete with a mannequin of “Empty House” fame with a prominent hole through its forehead. Rather spooky – the kids kept asking why that was.
One last stop was Covent Garden, which was incredibly busy on Saturday night. We also briefly ended up on eponymous subway station, which is easily the worst in London, not having any escalators, with a big crowd at the elevators, and an alternative 193-step climb to surface via spiral stairs. Fun!
The day was a success. We”ll work on keeping it up!