BRAD     |     EMILLIE

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Oranges and Lemons Say the Bells of St. Clement's

For this trip to London we decided to focus on child friendly activities. While this may appear to have been guided by our doting parent side, it's primarily because we figured they'd be less popular than the typical run of London museums. Claire had long since given up going to museums because of the hour long waits just to get in and hang out with all the other tourists. Despite our official status as "Tourists" we are also decidedly anti-tourist (the paradox is obvious... but I don't care... because other tourists simply get in the way of sight seeing!).

So we limited ourselves to four "sights" with Nikolai in mind (in order of Nikolai's preference):

1. Princess Diana's Memorial Playground in Hyde Park: On a sunny Friday afternoon, we only had to wait 20 minutes to get in. It is a free, public playground. But due to popularity, they've had to exert some crowd control. Regardless, the playground is definitely worth the wait! Nikolai spent nearly his whole time playing on the giant tall ship (as seen below -Nikolai's wearing his green Ireland jersey). He also dabbled a bit in the sandy-water pool. We didn't really explore too deeply into the playground, as we couldn't spend the 4 hours it would have taken for Nikolai to have played with all of the interesting equipment. We poked our nose around the "lost-boys" tree fort playground on stilts, and the teepees (wigwams); but I'm sure that we missed seeing many other interesting activities.2. V&A Museum of Childhood: This is basically a museum for toys. And most of the toys are behind glass. However, they do have things for children to play with in most quadrants of the museum. While Nikolai enjoyed the sandpit, play kitchen and dress up clothes; us adults enjoyed looking at the Victorian era toys, and remembering the toys of our childhood (I swear, Fisher price toys used to be much better quality! They had all my favorites!)3. Harrods: For anyone who doesn't know it... Harrods is the poshest department store around. We took Nikolai up to their toy section and let him loose in the play area. Of note, they carry a good selection of high end toys. Also worthy of noting... prices were about 1/3 more than Smyths... so we did not buy anything at Harrods. Regardless, they certainly didn't seem to be hurting for lack of business! They also have a Children's Cafe, where you can get a three course kids meal for £18.

4. Victoria and Albert Museum: We went there on our last trip too, but this museum was en route to Harrods, and with a sleeping Nikolai, we decided to explore another area of this vast museum. Nikolai woke up as we were leaving and insisted on seeing the section on musical instruments. Unfortunately they don't have a section on instruments, but he was satisfied with a visit to the piano in the Theatre section.

Lastly, below is a picture of Claire's hood. She lives in one of these tall and narrow row houses with 5 other roommates. It's a bit squashed, so we "house-sat" for a friend of hers who live just a short distance away. And while we provided very good care of her pet cat, I think that the favor really benefited us the most, as we had her lovely apartment all to ourselves for the weekend!

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