Three days in London

gigBy day, MrHSS is a teacher. However, by night, more of a rock star. This week he was playing in Covent Garden as part of London Poppy Day. It’s a gig they played last year as well (Naheed, the lead singer of their band, Mix Tape Nation, is a veteran) but on that occasion I chickened out as the thought of juggling a two-year-old and a 6-month-old by myself all day in the big city just felt a bit too scary. However this year, I didn’t have the ‘just had a baby’ excuse (yes, that is totally valid at any point up to a year) and Bean1 was really keen to see Daddy play a gig so off we set.

We decided to make a bit more of it than just the gig, so left home early(ish) on Wednesday morning. We drove in because of transporting MrHSS’s kit and got to the hotel car park at about 11am. We were really lucky to be able to stay in the Victory Services Club so were in a great location just by Marble Arch. We headed straight across Hyde Park and made our way to the Science Museum. Unsurprisingly, it was fairly busy and there was a queue to get in but we just used the time to eat our picnic! We went to a storytelling session (nothing amazing but Bean1 was captivated), to the Space gallery (which hasn’t changed since I was a child), The Garden (which both Beans thought was fabulous), the Secrets of the Home exhibit (again, there didn’t seem to be any appliances in there manufactured after 1993 but Bean1 thought the secret moving appliances on the ceiling were amazing) and the Bubble Show which was probably the highlight. It was all very busy, but there were some really lovely touches like toys to play with whilst waiting to get into The Garden which made the queuing tolerable. After about 4 hours at the museum we made our way back through Hyde Park (where Bean2 learned 2 new words – squirrel and statue) to the hotel and then out for dinner (we had a really warm welcome at Prezzo Marble Arch, probably helped by the fact that at 5pm on a Wednesday evening we were the only people in the restaurant!).

On Thursday morning MrHSS disappeared off shortly after breakfast and the children and I spent the morning with my brother near his flat at Battersea Park. What an amazing playground; the Beans were in awe of all the equipment and different sections to choose between. I was a little hesitant about getting around with both Beans to manage but, though it was easier with two adults, I needn’t have worried. And for the Beans, the buses and trains were a real highlight of the trip. We took our very light-weight, easily foldable pushchair (a Petite Star Zia) and the Connecta, and the combination worked really well. Bean1 either walked or went in the pushchair, and Bean2 did a mix of carrier and pushchair.

After a great morning at the park, we headed over to Covent Garden to catch up with MrHSS and wait for MTN to play. There was a slightly ill-advised attempt to visit the National Portrait Gallery during this interlude – at 4.30pm after a really busy day, neither Bean was in the right frame of mind for looking at portraits – but we escaped mostly unharmed and got back to Covent Garden in time for both Beans to rock out to Daddy banging his drums. I’m not sure Bean2 even blinked once during the 30 minute set!

Now we have a routine which has evolved over the past three years and which we are fairly fond of. It generally gets us pretty happy children and reasonable nights’ sleep. Our children eat their dinner at 5pm. So when MrHSS announced their set was at 5.45, and logistics meant we wouldn’t eat dinner until afterwards, I was more than a little apprehensive about how the children would manage. However, with a little judicious application of fruit pouches and the odd Organix snack, they were brilliant. Even three tube journeys at 9pm at night (bedtime is 7pm) didn’t phase them. Phew!

In fact, we even got a lie in until 7am this morning. That’s right, people, now I have children I consider 7am a lie in. A pretty good one, at that. After breakfast my parents took the Beans on the train, while MrHSS and I drove, to Bekonscot model village. I grew up near here and this is somewhere we’ve wanted to take the Beans for a while. It was like going back to my childhood! I loved seeing the Beans captivated by exactly the same things that I used to enjoy, even if it was hard to get Bean2 to understand the no touching rule.

Finally, after lunch, we made our way back home. The Beans were sound asleep before we were even 2 minutes in to the journey (I wasn’t far behind!). However, we had a brilliant couple of days which felt like a real holiday and I definitely won’t worry about doing it another time. In fact, I am already planning a solo trip to take the Beans to see the Christmas lights in December.


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