First day of half-term and…..deep breath…..embarked on an expedition to the Museum of London with baby and buggy in tow and 2 of my daughter’s ‘boyfriends’ aged 6 and 4 (not on my own I hasten to add – their Mum was with me). It would be best summarised as a crash course in crowd control and how to assemble and disassemble a child’s buggy in seconds while being elbowed at all angles by commuters trying to get on the escalator and on the tube. At times I wished (for ease) that my baby would just collapse down with the buggy too and then just spring back again once the narrow passageway/ stairs or escalator had been successfully negotiated….’flatpack baby’.
I also got a tiny glimpse into what it is like to be in a wheelchair. Everyone else takes the quick and easy route but you are the one ‘token’ person that uses the ramp or lift that takes an age to get to, no doubt cost a fortune to install and made a lot of builders grumble when constructing it. You then re-enter non-wheeled society at a meeting point that took them seconds to get to whereas it took you at least 5 minutes. The most ridiculous excursion was the lift to get from the platform to the footbridge and then back down again. My baby boy found it fun though. I lost count of the number of times I heard a female robotic voice today saying ‘going up’…..’going down’….’going up’….’going down’. I wouldn’t mind if you got an orgasm somewhere in the middle of this pattern to break the monotony.
Baby changing tends to be combined with disabled toilets, which is another interesting combination. It attempts to be all things to all people but of course the design of it fails. The baby change unit was miles away from the nappy bin, which was located next to the disabled toilet. I couldn’t leave my baby’s side while he was on the change unit so lobbed the used nappy over to the bin at the other end of the room by the loo and was pleased when I hit goal. As I reached to get something from the buggy I set the hand dryer off, all the while keeping one hand on my baby’s tummy to stop him rolling off.
The big kids were fun too. Oblivious to the traffic streaking through the city they cavorted around on the busy pavements tripping up grumpy London commuters and making myself and my friend holler like a pair of old fishwives. We finally breathed a sigh of relief when we got onto embankment, away from the roads and then we could let them run free like a pack of dogs safe in the knowledge that they wouldn’t get squashed. The youngest (aged 4) was interesting in an entertaining way. If he didn’t like where you were heading he just froze to the spot so that my friend had to do some serious negotiating to get him moving again. When we were at St Paul’s he then refused to walk over the cracks in the pavement so all hopes of getting to Waterloo station before night-fall evaporated.
London never fails to entertain and the best observations dont cost a penny. A police boat zooming at break-neck speed along the Thames followed by the RNLI captured the kids attention as they walked along the river. They danced to the eclectic tune of an Eastern European busking band as we walked along an underpass and discovered MC Hammer after watching some seriously cool break-dancing near the London Eye.
The Museum of London, like all museums in the city, is free to enter. It was brilliant and displays the amazing history from the capital’s Roman origins under the guise of ‘Londinium’ through to the bubonic plague, the great fire (the current project theme at my daughter’s school) and of course, the WW 2 blitz with very moving accounts of people who lost loved ones. As you watch the films of the devastation, suspended above your head is a replica of the dreaded doodlebug bomb. The city’s heritage is rich.
As night fell on London, it felt like the Olympic games had never happened because, regardless of what cultural event moves in and out of the city, there will always be buskers, beggars, skateboarders, break dancers, traffic, grumpy commuters and cracks in the pavement. Its a city for everyone.
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