We took a trip to London, to see Snappy’s nanna and papa who flew over from New Jersey and also his godmother – auntie Mel and meet uncle Peter.
It’s a pretty easy journey, but it’s been a while since any of us were in a city of any size, even longer for Snappy and he’s never been in a city like London. I thought he would be much more anxious than he has been, he’s not a big fan of noise, but he managed it all really well.
So did I.
We hit the science museum on our first day – our friends said it was good for kids and it definitely was, but Snappy wasn’t too keen to go into any of the interactive bits with the kids. He can be very shy – more so when it comes to kids than adults we’ve found. There was a children’s ‘garden’ but he refused to go in.
He did, however, enjoy all the vehicles. They have a line of six or seven cars right up to the ceiling. Old trains and tractors and they had some space modules too.
They have some great exhibits that we enjoyed, I quite liked the household stuff because there was lots of interactive stuff you could do which Snappy really liked.
After lunch and a wander around the gift shop, we went next door.
Natural History Museum.
I have not been here since I was about nine. Maybe older, I forget exactly what we did on the trip to London we went on when I was about 12. Either way, it’s been a bloody long time.
I really liked it as an adult. Snappy did too, he oddly really likes the taxidermy animals, but then he doesn’t really understand what they are. I have a complicated relationship with taxidermy; it’s amazing and horrifying all in one go.
I really liked the minerals and the creepy crawlies. Snappy had a good time in there, though mostly he was happy to make us walk up and down the stairs. Sensibly my in-laws sat that out and we took him up. He held his auntie Mel’s hand most of the time while she walked around looking at sapphires. He’s a really good sport, as long as he can see too, and ask questions, he is happy to go along with a lot of what you do.gg
We spent the day at Kew Gardens on our second day, meeting up with Mel once more. Snappy and I were the only ones who hadn’t been before. I was really excited about Kew because, well, I’m a crap gardener but I love pretty things. Our visit coincided with an exhibition of glass sculptures by Dale Chihuly and I really, really like glass.
I was not disappointed by Kew or the exhibition.
Kew is massive (the biggest botanical gardens in the ), and pretty much impossible to do in one day (or in a month). I generally went along with what the others wanted to look at because the sculptures are scattered around the gardens and there are pretty things everywhere.
I did take him to the new Children’s garden. It’s free but you need to get a ticket ad book a timeslot. And only one adult could go in as well, which seems a bit odd, because, generally two-parent families will go together with their children. Anyway, I took Snappy in which the others had a rest and chatted.
He was reluctant at first, because of all the kids and he cried but when he saw the ropes and we had a talk, he felt a bit better. Then he started climbing and by time we had to leave he was pretty happy. He even let me sit down for a whole five minutes before rubbing a piece of bark over my skin.
As you do.
Anyway, after that, we did the tour on the little ‘train’ they have and we saw a great deal of the gardens while sitting on our bums before going into the palm house.
We stayed still closing, I bought a cool poster, so now we have three new posters to put up before saying goodbye to Mel (who had to go to Brum for work) and walked down to have great dinner at the Coach & Horses Hotel down the road from Kew.
Royal Opera House
Bethend and I ventured out on our own on Thursday. And by on our own, I mean without the toddler. Unsurprisingly toddlers are not allowed one the backstage tour at the Royal Opera House but this was something my wife really wanted to do. We made our way over to Camden, had a cup of tea and a brownie (that we didn’t have to share with a toddler) and then a tour with a guide called Martin.
The entire tour was really interesting. We got to learn and see how the sets are moved and had a history of the building, and how they used to do things and how things have changed. He talked about how it works in terms of rehersals, shows, hiring dancers and singers. We got to see some of the training and some of the students of the ballet school rehearsing.
It was a great experience, definitely worth doing.
When we were done, we totally dragged our in-laws to a Nandos for lunch. There is no Nandos in Ceredigion.
The London Eye
I think, personally, the London Eye is a bit overhyped. I enjoyed it but I don’t think I would’ve regretted not experiencing it. For me, the desire to see these views of London really depends on what you want aesthetically.
I don’t dislike the way cities look, but I don’t particularly enjoy them. Even in the sunshine. I like them at night, I like the light, the lights are beautiful. The buildings – old and new – are okay. I like the history of them certainly, but I have no burning need to see them. Put this in Ceredigion and I would be all over this.
I did enjoy it but I definitely would like to experience it at night.
Snappy enjoyed it more than I thought he would though, you can always tell because he talks about it the next day. He spotted the London eye everywhere and said he enjoyed it. He was scared certainly, but okay to be by the windows if he was held and happy to sit on the benches.
Plus he could see a lot of boats, and the train yard, which is what he really loves of course. Also, he got ice cream while we were waiting and his nan took him on the carousel which he thought was hilarious.
The Cutty Sark
Friday was Papa’s day. He’s a sailor and we headed to the Cutty Sark for the morning. By this time, Snappy had been out of routine for almost a week and definitly struggled while we there. My father in law took him around the ship, and we tried to get him to look at things, talk about stuff but in the end, I took him down the cafe for a drink while the others looked around.
I found the ship really interesting, plus you know, it was full of tea and I am all about tea. After a drink, though he felt a lot better and was happy to go back up onto the deck with his papa for a photo and to look around.
There were tears at lunch when there was no ice, but once he’d eaten he felt better and we headed out onto the river.
Boat Trip Down The Thames
This is not something I’ve ever done, and we had talked about it on and off. It made for a nice quiet afternoon, as it meant we could sit and Snappy could see a lot of boats. I love water and this was a view of London I really enjoyed. Snappy really enjoyed it and he got to see police boats, including one racing past with the sirens on.
It was really relaxing too, and we came out at the end by the statue of Boudica.
On our last day, we hit the zoo. I cannot resist zoos. Zoos have penguins. I bloody love penguins. And London Zoo has lesbian penguin mums. I am all over gay penguins. Plus I knew Snappy would enjoy it. He loved Chester zoo and Dublin zoo, though he’s recently been saying he doesn’t like lions (and other large cats) because they will eat him.
We also got to spend the day with Peter again, who had now become uncle Peter and welcomed into the family by way of having to hold Snappy’s hand half the time while he told dad jokes (Peter not Snappy).
We took the pushchair to the Zoo, seeing as it was a full day and it had been a long week.
There is a lot at the zoo – and they’re doing a lot too – so we didn’t see everything. We did see sleeping lions, a very hungry tiger, giraffes – which I think may be one of Snappy’s favourite. I wasn’t blown away by the lions’ enclosure. I know what they were trying to do but it felt a bit like a maze with not much to see (I don’t care that the lions were sleeping unlike one woman but the entire thing was just huge decorated wood panels and a bit odd).
The lemurs were the best, definitely the most fun because you can go into their enclosure and they walk around you. They just wander past you and they meow like cats. It was just brilliant to be so close to them. I liked the birds too and meerkats were cute and always so much smaller than I rethink they’re going to be. Every time.
He went on the carousel, this time with papa, and still thought it was hilarious.
We headed home on Sunday, we spent the morning just resting on the flat and packing and my wife bought an insane amount of sausages made of various meats from the halal store nearby.
London was a bit of an emotional experience for me – I do not have a good history with the city, and I have some serious anxiety problems and I dislike crowds. But I was fine. Panicked a bit when I separated from Snappy when he and my father in law didn’t get on the same tube as us but I was fine getting around, fine with the crowds, and I enjoyed myself.
We’re all exhausted, I walked like 30k in a week and slept badly all week (though better than my wife) but I wouldn’t change it and I would go again. I mean, there’s still more animals at the zoo we haven’t seen!