Wednesday, August 24, 2011

London Day 3: the Science Museum, Westminster Abbey, the London Museum & the London Wall Walk

Today was much more "successful" in terms of things working out the way I'd hoped. :)

Éowyn 'dahing' on our train from East Croydon to Victoria
We took our time with a leisurely breakfast in our apartment, Éowyn having woken us up thoroughly in the night (I think she got too hot), then Ryan walked us to the train station on his way into the conference.  Éowyn loves having her Daddy around for sure! We caught a train to Victoria, changed over to the Tube and soon found ourselves walking down the pedestrian subway to the Science Museum from South Kensington station.  One complaint: entire all-holding-hands families walking at the pace of a baby snail, blocking the tunnel from those of us "on a mission."

Everything we did today was FREE!! (well, except for the innumerable trains & metros) I love this setup:  it eliminates any pressure to "get my money's worth" by trying to see the whole thing with a toddler, since I know I can either come back if we feel like it, or just let the babe enjoy as much as she can and call it a day! We spent a few hours in the lowest floor, the 'Garden Room,' which is aimed at little guys and encourages touching, discovering and interacting with lights, sounds, and different textures.

Enjoying the "Garden Room" in the Science Museum
Puppets!  We were lions, elephants, giraffes and more... all her zoo favorites!
I really liked the 'Secrets of the Home' exhibits, which go into the history and mechanics of pretty much any household fixture you can list-- toilets, washing machines, toasters, vacuums, locks/security-- we watched some old commercials and short documentaries on inventors, and tried our hand at sneaking through a "laser" field to a safe.  E loved it when I held her tight and set off the sirens and "Burglar!" signs flashed (I did manage to get through all the way "undetected" when I crawled flat on my belly)-- I had to do it several times and even then she wanted "again!"
Learning how a washing machine agitator works

Definitely trying this our next sailing trip

A positive FOREST of door-stoppers to twang, Mom!!
We headed towards Westminster Abbey in the hopes of catching their last free band concert of the summer.  We got there fine, Éowyn much the pinker and strawberry-smelling.  When we arrived near Parliament we had trouble (as usual) finding the spot where the concert was.  Despite plenty of signs & fliers announcing the concert, we couldn't find the 'Westminster Abbey College Gardens' on any map or plan of the Abbey...and neither could anyone else I asked.  With some help from another searching mom, I did manage to find the gardens and the concert, both of which were splendid.  We picnicked, Éowyn danced and splashed in the fountain, and enjoyed the sunshine & the music.  I loved the 'James Bond' medley and the 'Blue & the Grey' piece, the latter interweaving many familiar American tunes.

We walked through the Abbey courtyards and museum, skipping the sanctuary itself, and spending a good deal of time in the shops. So many fascinating books to choose from! Éowyn selected a Christmas Queen Victoria ornament (my sisters & I have matching ones!) that she is determined is her new 'baby.' She fell asleep and I took advantage of the freedom to browse at my leisure and read a whole book about Henry VIII's six wives. [What a disgusting hypocrite of a man to behead two of them for "adultery" when he himself was never faithful!! Many of his wives were religious and far more righteous than he... a powerful reminder that power corrupts-- who was there who could challenge the king about his own sin, when all he had to do was chop off his head? No Nathan the Prophet for this David. In a way I'm glad God didn't let his house-- the one he was so desperate to establish-- stand, with none of his children having heirs to England's throne, despite his philandering, plotting, scheming and divorcing.  It was a solemn reminder that it was God Who is truly the Sovereign, He Who determines who reigns and who doesn't.]

The weather was lovely and we enjoyed our time walking along what's left of London's ancient wall & moat... Roman & medieval artifacts are my favorites.  My camera died at this point and I have no more pictures. We found the Museum of London with some difficulty (Again, where are the clear signs & instructions in this city!!? That and all the construction made it really tricky, especially pushing a stroller!).  It was a bit over E's head; the young-child exhibits close early, apparently.  We did enjoy their book corner and walking along looking at costumes & vehicles.  (I found their Victorian "Park Gardens" movie exhibit totally weird and inappropriate for children, between a woman dressed in drag and a prostitute hitting on a noblewoman while a married man met with his mistress... yeah.)

We went home by way of St. Paul's Cathedral, where Éowyn was completely fascinated by the bells chiming 6 o'clock!  I've never heard bells like it, all cascading on top of each other, the sound going on and on.  Éowyn was totally mesmerized, asking me where the bells were-- we walked right up to the bell tower and I pointed up. "Want see!" she said.  "We can't-- they're too high, too far away."  "Too high?"  That became her refrain the whole way home.  "Can't touch- too high, Mama!  Too high!"  It was really cool to see her remembering something, trying to bring it up to talk about it with me later on, all on her own.  So cool that I am conversing with a growing little mind!!

She didn't throw any big tantrums today, though I had to stay on her about not putting her hands (and coins, extra yuck!) in her mouth-- she's got one last eye-tooth coming in on the top right, and it wants chewing.  That and not wanting to hold my hand-- "I want walk!!" she'll yell, trying to pull free.  Definitely had a few sessions about not yelling "No!" to Mommy and to obey without fussing.  I'm teaching her to apologize and ask properly and it's really cute to hear her use the phrases at other times, like if she sees me hurt myself or be disappointed, or even randomly.  I'll hear this tiny, sweet voice saying "I fa-ee (sorry), Mama, I fa-ee." :)

Dinner was back at our local Indian restaurant, pubs not welcoming children after 8 o'clock... it was tasty and Éowyn requested "chicken."  The only thing that would have made Éowyn's day perfect would have been seeing Daddy before bed.  She kept asking for him.

As for me, I'm gonna have seriously developed triceps from the "push-chair" hauling. I'm trying to make a point to consciously thank Jesus every time someone offers to help me in the train/tube stations. I almost cried when a young teenaged boy helped me-- he was probably about 14, and I just wanted to hug his neck and tell him what an amazing gentleman he already was, and that he was going to grow up into a man worth honoring and respecting... but thought that would probably creep him out, so instead we both thanked him profusely and I clasped him on the shoulder... seemed so lame. (I did pray for God to bless and claim him for Himself.) These Tube & Railway stations are NOT stroller-friendly!!

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