The coldest day of the year so far did not fail to produce commuting problems.
When I arrived at the Lewisham train station on my way home (where I change from Docklands Light Rail to Southeastern commuter rail), the station was enveloped in darkness. Power failure. The trains were passing but not stopping. I had to take a bus instead. Unfortunately, there is no direct route and I have no idea what is the best connecting one. So I hopped on a bus that was going to a place that I could recognize, with the idea of switching to a bus going home there. That process took almost 50 minutes, compared with less than 15 that I normally spend on the last train leg. I have a feeling that the lights at Lewisham had long come back by the time I arrived home, cold and hungry.
The preceding weekend, notwithstanding Kimmy’s hand, was not too bad. We did not spend too much time in the fracture clinic getting her a hard cast. Half an hour wait, maybe, then 30 seconds with a doctor, who asked one question and pointed out the fracture on the x-ray picture on the computer, then a few more minutes waiting, and then a nice technician named Kimberly doing an excellent job in making Kimmy comfortable while applying the cast.
Natasha had located a synchronized skating team for Becky. The team has different levels that train on different days of the weekend. Becky went for tryouts on both Saturday and Sunday, having to get up earlier than on a school day in order to make the practice at 7:30. She was overqualified for the level that practices Saturday, but would be a fit for one of the Sunday’s teams. One small problem. The team is preparing for no less than World Championships in March, and Becky does not make the age cut-off. Simply practicing with the team at this point is probably not a good idea, as their training schedule is way too hectic right now for Becky’s laid-back approach.
We will consider joining the team for the next year possibly, although in all probability it will prevent us from taking weekend trips anywhere.
Let’s see first if there will be any weekend trips to talk about!
By the way, the cost of team membership is much less than what we used to pay in New Jersey, with outfits being paid for by the club without additional expense from the parents. There are fewer competitive trips, which accounts for lower fees, but otherwise, the cost calculation defies explanation, unless the coaches are on some salary and are not being paid out of team member fees.
Saturday weather was not too bad, and we wanted to go to the city in the middle of the day. Becky was really tired, though, and she wanted to take a nap. We figured that at 12 years old, she can stay home on her own, left her to her sleep and went to the British Museum.
The solemn classical building on the outside hides impressive open-space galleries on the inside that contain unparalleled collection of artifacts from ancient and not-so-ancient civilizations. One of the most famous objects, for instance, is the Rosetta Stone that enabled Champollion to decipher Egyptian hieroglyphs. An entire gallery is filled with statues from Greek Parthenon – you probably will not find any remaining at the Parthenon itself…
We picked up an activity backpack for Kimmy and spent over an hour completing all activities in the kit. Many London museums enable kids entertainment this way: A backpack, containing various games, puzzles and implements that can be used in a sort of treasure hunt or interactive learning session. We then spent some time walking around Egyptian and Greco-Roman galleries. It will probably take several more visits to see all of the great stuff in this museum.
On Sunday, we left both kids at home. The concept is truly foreign for an American parent, but is fairly accepted in Europe. Anyone reading this who was born in the former Soviet Union, think back to your own childhood. I bet that at the very early age you started coming home from school while your parents were at work, opened the door with your very own key, heated up your lunch by yourself, and possibly even did the same for a younger sibling. You may then had to get on the bus and travel across town to a piano lesson or a chess section.
And, after all, Becky is 12. We used to employ neighbor girls, who were 12 or 13, as babysitters for Kimmy.
So, anyway, my distant cousin Boris was coming to London for a business trip and we arranged to meet for a dinner. No point in bringing the kids with us. We left the house around 4pm and returned home around 10pm. With the TV and two computers all to themselves, the two young ladies barely noticed our absence.
We drove into the city. Parking is not a problem on a Sunday in a non-heavy-residential part of London. But getting there is a pain. 11 miles took us almost an hour one way. I figure I should not be repeating my earlier rants, especially since this particular trip was not so much about roundabouts as it was about un-synchronized traffic lights every dozen meters or so. But we kept saying that taking a train would surely be faster…
We had a good time and a little bit of time for ourselves was quite welcome, though…